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LINCOLN ROOM 




UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 
LIBRARY 




ABKAHAM LINCOLN. 
(From the Statue by Augustus St. Gaudens.) 




OF 



PRESIDENT LINCOLN 



AND 



HIS ADMINISTRATION 



BY 

L. E. CHITTENDEN 

HIS KEGISTEB OF THB TREASURY 




HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 

NEW YORK AND LONDON 

1904 



Copyright, 1891, by HARPER & BROTHERS. 
Ail righto rtterved. 



1104- 



THIS VOLUME 
HAS GROWN OUT OF MY LOTS AND RESPECT FOB 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

AND KNOWING NO WAT IN WHICH I CAN BETTER ATTEST 
THE SINCERITY OF ITS PURPOSE 

1 Dedicate it 

TO HIS SON 

ROBERT T. LINCOLN 

OF THE UXITID STATK8 TO TBS COURT OF ST. JUTES 



85157 



CONTENTS. 



PAQB 

I. PRELIMINARY AND EXPLANATORY. ORIGIN OF THIS VOL- 
UME. ITS SCOPE AND PUBPOSE . 1 

II. A GLIMPSE OF A NOTED CAMPAIGN. THE STATE ELEC- 
TIONS EARLY IN OCTOBER, I860, WHICH VIRTUALLY 
SETTLED THE PRESIDENTIAL CONTEST 8 

III. OFFICE - SEEKING BY AN INEXPERIENCED CANDIDATE. 

APPOINTMENT TO THE PEACE CONFERENCE. SENATOR 
FOOT, OF VERMONT. His PREMONITIONS OF REBEL- 
LION 17 

IV. NOTES ON THE PEACE CONFERENCE. THE PLANS OF 

THE CONSPIRATORS. ADAM QUROWSKI. JAMES S. 
WADSWORTH 28 

V. AN OFFICIAL CALL UPON THE PRESIDENT. IT UNITES 

THE LOYAL MEMBERS OF THE CONFERENCE 32 

VI. ANOTHER OFFICIAL CALL. GENERAL SCOTT. His LOY- 
ALTY AND ITS INFLUENCE UPON THE DECLARATION 
OF THE ELECTORAL VOTE . . . 36 

VII. THE 13TH OF FEBRUARY, 1861. THE ELECTION OF PRES- 
IDENT LINCOLN DECLARED. FIRMNESS OF VICE-PRES- 
IDENT BRECKINKIDGE. ANGER OF THE SECESSIONISTS 40 
VIII. ANOTHER INCIDENT OF FEBRUARY 13TH. JUDGE SMAL- 
LEY ON TREASON. SEIZURE OF ARMS IN NEW YORK 

CITY. ACTION OF ITS MAYOR 47 

IX. AN ALTERCATION IN THE PEACE CONFERENCE. SENA- 
TOR LOT M. MORRILL AND COMMODORE STOCKTON. A 

TEST OF NORTHERN COURAGE 50 

X. THE CONSPIRACY OF ASSASSINATION. ITS DETAILS. MR. 
LINCOLN CONSENTS TO FOLLOW THE ADVICE OF His 
FKIENDS . 58 



Vi CONTENTS. 

MM 

XI. How DID MB. LINCOLN "GET THROUGH BALTIMORE"? 65 

XII. A SECOND PRESIDENTIAL RECEPTION. MR. LINCOLN 
CONVERSES WITH LEADING SOUTHERNERS. His DUTY 
TO THE CONSTITUTION 68 

XIII. THE LAST WEEK OP PRESIDENT BUCHANAN'S ADMINIS- 

TRATION. . 79 

XIV. THE INAUGURATION. A MEMORABLE SCENE .... 84 
XV. SOME NOTES UPON GENERAL SCOTT AND ROBERT E. LEE 93 

XVI. THE NONES AND IDES OP MARCH. THE NEW CAB- 
INET 103 

XVII. A NOVEL INDUCTION INTO OFFICE 109 

XVIII. THE ISOLATION OP THE CAPITOL. AN ALARMED VIR- 
GINIAN 115 

XIX. BALTIMORE BLOCKS THE WAT 120 

XX. THE FIRST VOLUNTEER DEFENDERS OF THE CAPITOL. 
THE PLUG-UGLIES OF BALTIMORE. THE SEVENTH 
NEW YORK AND THE EIGHTH MASSACHUSETTS REGI- 
MENTS 125 

XXI. THE "TRENT AFFAIR." STATESMANSHIP OP MR. SEW- 

ARD 132 

XXII. THE ANTAGONISM OF THE REGULAR TO THE VOLUN- 
TEER SERVICE. THE INFLUENCE OF PRESIDENT LIN- 
COLN 149 

XXIII. THE COLORED PEOPLE. THEIR INDUSTRY IN LEARN- 

ING TO READ. THEIR IMPLICIT CONFIDENCE IN PRES- 
IDENT LINCOLN 158 

XXIV. SECRETARY CAMERON. His RESIGNATION. GENERAL 

FREMONT. His TROUBLES IN THE DEPARTMENT OP 
THE WEST. SECRETARY ST ANTON. His CHARACTER. 
THE DAVIS COMMISSION. MR. O'NEILL'S REPORT 
ON SECRETARY STANTON'S SERVICES 168 

XXV. MAKING $10,000,000 OP U. S. BONDS UNDER PRESS- 
URE. THE CONSTRUCTION OF CONFEDERATE IRON- 
CLAD SHIPS IN BRITISH SHIP- YARDS. THE DEPART- 
URE OF Two PREVENTED. AN ENGLISHMAN OFFERS 
A GREAT SERVICE TO OUR REPUBLIC. His INCOG- 
NITO . 194 



CONTENTS. 

XXVI. PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S CONNECTION WITH THE ORI- 
GIN OF ARMORED VESSELS. His FAITH IN IRON- 
CLADS. THE INFLUENCE OF ASSISTANT-SECRETARY 
Fox. His INTERVIEW WITH THE PRESIDENT ON 
THE ?TH OF MARCH, 1862 212 

XXVII. PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S CONFIDENCE IN ARMORED 
VESSELS, CONTINUED. THE "MONITOR" AND HER 
BATTLE WITH THE "MERRIMAC" DESCRIBED BY 
CAPTAIN WORDEN 222 

XXVIII. JOSEPH HENRY AND ABRAHAM LINCOLN 235 

XXIX. INTER ARMA, SCIENTIA. THE POTOMAC NATURAL- 
ISTS' CLUB 239 

XXX. A NIGHT WITH THE POTOMAC NATURALISTS' CLUB. 

THE GIANT OCTOPUS 246 

XXXI. HOSPITAL NOTES. THE WOUNDED FROM THE WIL- 
DERNESS. CHARITIES OF THE COLORED POOR. 
SISTERS OF CHARITY. ANAESTHETICS 251 

XXXII. PRESIDENT LINCOLN AND THE SLEEPING SENTINEL. 
ERRONEOUS VERSIONS OF THE STORY. WILL- 
IAM SCOTT, OF THE THIRD VERMONT, SENTENCED 
TO DEATH FOR SLEEPING ON HIS POST. HE is 
PARDONED BY THE PRESIDENT. His LAST MES- 
SAGE TO THE PRESIDENT. His DEATH AT THE 
BATTLE OF LEE'S MILLS 265 

XXXIII. TREASURY NOTES AND NOTES ON THE TREASURY . 284 

XXXIV. NEW MONEYS OF LINCOLN'S ADMINISTRATION. 

DEMAND NOTES. " SEVEN-THIRTIES. " POSTAGE 
CURRENCY. FRACTIONAL CURRENCY. LEGAL- 
TENDER NOTES, OR "GREENBACKS." THEIR OBI- 
GIN, GROWTH, AND VALUE 296 

XXXV. GRANT AND MCCLELLAN 316 

XXXVI. THE CONFEDERATES EXCHANGE A PARTY OF THEIR 

PRISONERS OF WAR 323 

XXXVII. PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S STORY OF DANIEL WEBSTER 830 

XXXVIII. PRESIDENT LINCOLN THE UNAPPRECIATED FRIEND 
OF THE SOUTH. His OFFER OF COMPENSATED 
EMANCIPATION. HE MEETS A VERMONT CON- 
TRACTOR. THEIR IMPRESSIONS OF EACH OTHER. 835 



viii CONTENTS. 

MM 

XXXIX. THE PROFESSIONAL DETECTIVE. His EMPLOYMENT 
BY THE UNITED STATES AND ITS INFLUENCE UPON 
THE PEOPLE 341 

XL. PUBLIC MISCONCEPTIONS OF THE VALUE OF SALARIED 

OFFICERS. GENERAL STANNARD 353 

XLI. WAS GENERAL THOMAS LOYAL ? 360 

XLII. THE IMPARTIAL JUDGMENT OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN. 
THE RESIGNATION OF SECRETARY CHASE. ITS 
CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES 366 

XLIII. THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST WASHINGTON IN 1864. ~THB 

BATTLE OF MONOCACY 385 

XLIV. GENERAL EARLY BEFORE WASHINGTON IN 1864. 

BATTLE OF FORT STEVENS 403 

XLV. THE JUDGMENT OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN. His COOL- 
NESS IN TIMES OF EXCITEMENT. His FAITH THAT 
THE UNION CAUSE WOULD BE PROTECTED AGAINST 
SERIOUS DISASTER. FOUR OF HIS LETTERS NOW 
FIRST PUBLISHED 428 

XL VI. ABRAHAM LINCOLN. A SKETCH OF SOME EVENTS IN 

HIS LIFE 431 

INDEX 455 



RECOLLECTIONS OF 

PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 



I. 

PRELIMINARY AND EXPLANATORY. ORIGIN OF THIS VOLUME. 
ITS SCOPE AND PURPOSE. 

WHEN the notes were made which are now expanded 
into a volume, I had no purpose beyond that of record- 
ing, so far as I had time and opportunity, my personal 
knowledge of current events, which might afterwards 
possess some interest for my family and my immediate 
personal friends. Neither then nor for a quarter of a 
century afterwards had any thought of their publica- 
tion occurred to me. As time passed, and many of these 
events were imperfectly or inaccurately described in the 
numerous current publications, corrections of them, which 
I verbally made, appeared to possess an unexpected in- 
terest to those who heard them. I have been told many 
times, and by those whose judgments are entitled to re- 
spect, that my version of these occurrences formed a part 
of the history of Mr. Lincoln's administration, and that 
their publication and preservation was in some sense a 
duty. 

Accordingly, and by way of experiment, I brushed 
I 



2 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

the dust of more than a score of years from my note- 
books, and acting as my own amanuensis, wrote out the 
article entitled " Making United States Bonds under 
Pressure," which was published in the number of Har- 
per's Monthly Magazine for May, 1890. How that ar- 
ticle was received the public knows. The correspond- 
ence to which it gave rise was extensive enough to be- 
come a burden. While the criticisms were generally 
favorable, the complaint was many times repeated that 
I ought to have given more details that the article was 
too much condensed that I should have given more of 
the conversations what was said by the President and 
Secretary Chase, etc. This complaint was unexpected 
because I supposed that the more condensed it was, the 
greater was the merit of the article. It was followed 
by others which were not unfavorably received, and the 
interest excited, with the possibly too partial judgment of 
my friends, has resulted in the preparation of this volume. 
Whatever other criticism may be made, it cannot be 
said that the book has been thoughtlessly written. 
Thoughts have rushed upon me like a flood the diffi- 
culty has been to avoid giving expression to them, and 
to restrict my pen to the record of the events. The 
reader will comprehend some of these reflections if he 
will place himself in my position. He will appreciate 
as he never did before, how quickly "one generation 
passeth away and another generation cometh." There 
were giants in those days. It has been a labor of love 
for me to recall some of their mighty works. But 
where are the giants now ? The great war cabinet, the 
great soldier, and the President, greater than all com- 
bined, have all passed away. The last of the three finan- 
cial secretaries of President Lincoln, stricken while I am 
writing, now lies upon what is feared will be his dying 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 3 

couch. I am the last surviving officer of the Treasury, 
above the grade of a clerk, connected with the issue of 
securities during the war. General Spinner, the incor- 
ruptible guardian of the gold of the nation, the last of 
my official associates, has recently passed away. In his 
letter to me, one of the last written by his hand, he says : 
" In my 89th year an incurable disease has so affected my 
vision that I can only write with great difficulty, and for 
five weeks all my letters have been written by another 
hand. I wish I could write you a long letter about old 
times, but I cannot. So, good-bye, old friend, and may 
God bless you!" His death sadly reminds me that if 
there is any importance in having this history written 
by one who had some part in it some personal knowl- 
edge of its details, I am almost the only civil officer of 
that time upon whom the duty rests, and that I have but 
little time left for the performance. 

It was natural that the story of the military and 
naval operations of the war should have been first writ- 
ten. This work has been comprehensively performed. 
It probably fills more volumes than the history of any 
other four years since the invention of printing. They 
represent both parties to the contest, and are usually 
written by admirers of the heroes whose achievements 
they record. They are interesting, but in many details 
they are not history ; they are so far from it as to sug- 
gest a doubt whether events can be accurately described 
by their contemporaries. If, as I am sure he will, the 
reader shall find statements herein directly opposed to 
the assertions of the authors of some of these military 
histories, I ask the same charity which I will concede to 
others. Let the statements be judged by all the evidence, 
intrinsic as well as external. If they will not stand that 
test, they are not true and have no place in history. 



4: RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

When I took charge of a bureau in the Treasury, I 
naturally wished to understand the theory of its con- 
struction. "What were the functions of the several 
bureaus? their relation to the secretary and to each 
other? I wanted a history of the institution. Mr. 
Hamilton was its reputed creator. What were his plans ? 
his objects ? How did he propose to secure them ? 

No such history existed. The memoirs of Mr. Ham- 
ilton were silent upon the details of this the greatest 
work of his life. The only printed book which gave 
any promise of the information I wanted was a work 
by " Eobert Mayo, M.D., Compiler of a New System of 
Mythology," published in 1847. In these thin quartos, 
buried in an indigestible mass of circulars, instructions 
and decisions of secretaries, were a few details of the 
functions of the different bureaus, and that was all. 
Such knowledge as I acquired of the Treasury, and of 
all the matters referred to in this volume, was derived 
through my own personal experience in the operations 
of the government and personal contact with its officers. 
I am therefore solely responsible for the accuracy of 
my statements, where I have not given the authority 
upon which they are made. 

I acquired, as I believe justly, a high opinion of the 
Treasury system and of the importance of a rigid en- 
forcement of its regulations. By its complete control 
of the finances during the war it was a mighty power 
for evil as well as for good. The fate of the nation 
depended upon its competent management. Directed 
by an able financier who could reinforce the military 
and naval departments by the confidence born of a 
strong national credit, ours was one of the strongest 
governments on earth. In the hands of an incompetent 
secretary, careless of the national credit, the future 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 5 

promised was bankruptcy, defeat in the field, and a 
divided union. 

Important as it was in the suppression of the rebel- 
lion, I do not intend to write the history of Secretary 
Chase's financial policy, nor any financial or other his- 
tory. This volume, like the notes of which it is an 
extension, has no special object. It will meet all my 
expectations if it records facts, does no injustice, and 
gives credit to whomsoever credit is due. 

I must protest in advance against any inference 
against public men whom I hold in high esteem because 
the truth of history requires me to mention acts of theirs 
which their friends have always regretted. No man is 
at all times entirely great. If he were, he would be a 
hero to his valet. In the early part of the war, the 
public judgment was very unreliable. Those were the 
days when the people were shouting, "On to Kich- 
mond!" and looking to Providence for a Moses or a 
Napoleon. An unimportant victory was sufficient to 
make them cry out, " Behold, he is a leader and a com- 
mander to the people " a single failure and they were 
equally ready to crucify him. Later on they learned to 
tolerate errors and excuse failures, and value public men 
by the general balance of their services. Their judg- 
ment was more matured and reliable when Secretary 
Chase, after more than two years of labor, had estab- 
lished the public credit, when Grant would fight it out 
on that line if it took all summer, and Sherman was 
leading an army through the enemy's country on a 
march which commenced in November and ended with 
the war in May. 

The sectional divisions of the country must be consid- 
ered by those who would comprehend the earlier events 
of the war. The North believed that slavery was the 



6 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

sum of all villainies the South that it was the mother 
of all virtues ; one that it degraded, the other that it 
ennobled, the white race ; one that it changed men into 
coarse, brutal tyrants, the other that deprivation of its 
salutary influences had converted the North into the 
home of a race of traders too cowardly to fight and 
too inferior to govern. "With such extreme views, they 
necessarily misjudged and misunderstood each other. 

Sectional differences in our republic belong to the 
past. By the war, slavery, its cause, has perished. 
There is no longer any excuse for sectional divisions. 
The ship of state, manned by a united crew, has turned 
away from the dangers of the past, and is sailing oyer 
tranquil seas towards the peaceful port of her manifest 
destiny, the supremacy of the nations of the Western 
Continent. The enterprise to secure that supremacy 
will be furnished by her own sons, the wealth to main- 
tain it will be gathered from her own mines and forests, 
and the products of her own soil, and not from weaker 
nations despoiled. The sections devastated by the war 
have been the first to recover their strength. Manufac- 
tures are pushing southward ; new towns and cities are 
springing up, and everywhere the sun of prosperity is 
shining over a reunited and reconstructed union. 

Such political and industrial conditions must not be 
ignored by those who write of the history of the war. 
Such writers owe a duty to the future as well as to the 
past. It is plainly a part of that duty not to revive old 
controversies which the war has settled. No one can 
be made better or happier by threshing over the straw 
of old accusations, which only serve to awaken old ani- 
mosities. There were events of the war, there are events 
in all wars, which good men should regret, which should 
as quickly as possible be blotted from the memory of 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. f 

man. It would be almost criminal to revive and per- 
petuate them. I have sought to keep this duty and 
these facts in mind while writing this book. On the 
other hand, it is not to the advantage of either section 
that facts should be suppressed or misinterpreted which 
may hereafter be of service by way of warning or 
instruction. I have corrected some misdescription in 
accounts of battles. I have spoken plainly of the treat- 
ment of Federal prisoners, and of those who I believe 
were responsible for that crime against humanity. But 
here and in every sentence I have sought to write in 
the temper of mind which would have controlled the 
martyr-President, who, especially in the closing days of 
his noble life, was mindful that "the end of the com- 
mandment is charity." 



II. 

A GLIMPSE OF A NOTED CAMPAIGN. THE STATE ELECTIONS 
EARLY IN OCTOBER, 1860, WHICH VIRTUALLY SETTLED THE 
PRESIDENTIAL CONTEST. 

VERMONT was the first state which held an election 
after the nomination of Mr. Lincoln. The first Tues- 
day in September had come, and the Kepublicans had 
carried Vermont. If doubts had existed, they were 
now dispelled. The Republicans were united; they 
had made a strong pull and a pull all together, and when 
they made a united effort they almost always carried 
Vermont. Their majority being greater than the com- 
bined vote of all their opponents, the state was consid- 
ered safe for Lincoln at the presidential election in No- 
vember. 

As soon as the election was over I was invited by the 
National Committee, then in continuous session, to come 
to the Astor House, New York, for consultation. They 
wanted to know something about our Vermont meth- 
ods ; also what Vermont could do for other states where 
the contest was more doubtful. At the committee rooms 
I first met Judge William D. Kelley, then making his 
first run for Congress in Philadelphia. He had not then 
gained the name of " Pig-iron Kelley," nor the grateful 
affection of his state and the country which he after- 
wards earned by long, efficient, and most reputable ser- 
vice in the popular branch of the national legislature. 
We made short speeches at the same mass-meeting in 
Jersey City. When the meeting was over he said to 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 9 

me, " Tour style will just suit my district. Come over 
to Philadelphia with me, and give us a taste of your 
Green Mountain quality. You may return to New 
York early on Monday." 

I assented, with little thought of the danger of trust- 
ing myself to the friendly contact of Philadelphia poli- 
ticians. I went with Judge Kelley to what was then a 
suburb of the city of brotherly love, Germantown by 
name, where I made an out-door address to ten thousand 
Wide-awakes and other Kepublicans. The newspapers 
said the speech was " a cracker." I had never heard the 
term before applied to any form of political or intellect- 
ual work. It was evidently commendatory, and indi- 
cated the partiality of the Philadelphians to what I 
thought was rather a dry form of edible. 

On the following morning Judge Kelley introduced 
me to some of the campaign managers at the committee 
rooms. I remember two of them, for their names be- 
came afterwards pretty well known to the people of 
this republic. There were Andrew G. Curtin and Col. 
Alexander McClure. The first-named was running for 
governor, and Col. McClure was running him. Both 
greeted me with effusion. They could now tell me in per- 
son what I should have learned later by letter. They had 
decided that Col. Frank Blair and myself were a matched 
pair of speakers for the country. They had, therefore, 
appointed a series of meetings for us which would occu- 
py nearly every afternoon and evening until the Friday 
preceding the state election in October. They had tele- 
graphed the notices to every town and city where the 
meetings were to be held. 

I objected that this was rather a cool proceeding ; that 
Col. Blair and myself had never met ; that I had busi- 
ness engagements at home ; that I protested on general 



10 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

principles against an appropriation of my time for two 
or three weeks without mentioning the subject to me. 
They swept my objections away like cobwebs ; declared 
that we " Yermonters did not know the first principles 
of running a campaign ; that if they waited to arrange 
all the details in advance, they would never get the speak- 
ers they wanted ; that the only safe way was to make 
the appointments and then capture the speakers ; that 
in our case there had been no difficulty ; Col. Blair and 
myself were both within easy reach, and they kn^w we 
would never consent to disappoint fifty thousand Repub- 
licans, disarrange the plans of the committee, and per- 
haps endanger the election." 

Resistance appeared to be unavailing. I surrendered, 
telegraphed home some of the details of my capture, and 
that I did not anticipate an early escape out of the hands 
into which I had fallen. The next day two very lively 
young Republicans took charge of Col. Blair and myself, 
and carried us far into the dark regions of a Democratic 
county. Where we travelled, what places we visited, I 
never inquired. The image of that fortnight upon my 
memory represents a continuous procession of committees 
of eminent citizens, mass -meetings, torch -light proces- 
sions, "Wide-awakes in uniform, shouting, singing political 
songs, and hurrahing for the ticket. In the afternoons 
Col. Blair and myself usually addressed the same mass- 
meeting. As soon as one had concluded he was hurried 
away to a distant town or city, to be in time for the even- 
ing meeting. The other made his speech, and was rushed 
off in the opposite direction. Some nights we were hun- 
dreds of miles apart, at noon the next day together. 
Such sleep as we got was on the cars. We were only 
permitted to see Republican newspapers, which declared 
that our converts were numerous, our missionary work 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. H 

a pronounced success. "We never failed to make our 
connections, and, as agreed, were returned to the Girard 
House in Philadelphia, on Friday preceding the Mon- 
day of the state election. We were a used-up pair of 
campaigners. We had lost our voices ; could not speak 
above a whisper, and in desperate need of the rest and 
sleep to which we intended to appropriate the next forty- 
eight hours. 

But rest and sleep were not for us. Col. Blair was 
hurried off somewhere, and I did not see him again until 
the second year of the war. John T. Nixon, afterwards 
a Federal judge in the southern district of New Jersey, 
was lying in wait for me. He was running for Con- 
gress ; was having a hard fight, and there were special 
reasons why, he said, I must go into the southeast corner 
of New Jersey to a great mass-meeting and barbecue, 
where I had been advertised to speak. I pleaded exhaus- 
tion, loss of voice, general dilapidation and worthless- 
ness, in vain. I could " save the district," he said. " A 
night's rest would set me all right. I must go and show 
myself, if I had to be carried on a stretcher, or he would 
be accused of intentionally deceiving and disappointing 
five thousand people in a rural community. Promptly 
at seven next morning he would come for me." 

I was awakened out of a dream. It was early morn- 
ing. From my window I saw that the street in front 
of the hotel was filled by a crowd of Wide-awakes, 
who were commencing the day by a service of music 
and song, which they ended by a night procession in 
the country, one hundred miles away. They were 
to form my escort to the train for Southeastern New 
Jersey. 

Omitting the intervening details, let me say at once 
that, attended by Mr. Nixon and a party of his friends, 



12 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

I reached the place of meeting shortly after midday. 
There was no town or village, scarcely a collection of 
houses. I do not know that the place had any name. 
It was near water communication with Delaware Bay, 
for during the afternoon four steamers arrived, bringing 
as many thousand Wide-awakes from Philadelphia and 
vicinity. Seats had been provided in a lovely grove, 
and these were already occupied, apparently by the pop- 
ulation of the locality en masse. Fathers and mothers 
with their families, young persons of both sexes, to the 
number of six or seven thousand the most orderly, quiet, 
cleanly rural population it has ever been my good-fortune 
to see. They had come not to shout, but to listen. Their 
good example reacted. Nobody could talk nonsense to 
such an audience. The speeches were argumentative, 
sensible, the best I had heard during the campaign. 

The Wide-awakes attended, to close the exercises with 
a torch-light procession. Coming from the city on ex- 
cursion steamers, a political organization, to attend a 
political meeting in the country, it may be anticipated 
that, being well provided with poor whiskey, they turned 
the meeting into a pandemonium, and, to use a phrase 
not then invented, that they " painted the place red." 
Nothing of the kind. There were oxen roasted entire, 
refreshments in abundance, but no whiskey nor evidences 
of whiskey. There was a grand political meeting, good, 
sound, creditable speeches, an attentive, respectful audi- 
ence, ending with one of the most beautiful torchlight 
processions I ever witnessed ; music, songs, but not one 
incident of rowdyism or disorder to mark or mar the 
day or the occasion. At the very close, two pre-revolu- 
tionary anvils performed duty as cannon, and made con- 
siderable noise. The whole affair was a credit to the 
orderly community which conducted it. Judge Nixon, 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 13 

referring to it during the next session of Congress, said 
its object was to stir up the community. It was at first 
feared that it had not produced the effect desired. But 
on election day, when he carried the county by an un- 
heard-of majority, it was decided that an earthquake, 
reinforced by a cyclone, could not have done the work 
so thoroughly as that quiet, well-ordered meeting. 

It had been arranged that I should return to Philadel- 
phia by one of the steamers. I took the one said to be 
least crowded, but it turned out that there were at least 
two Wide-awakes for every square foot of standing- 
room it afforded. "We got under way ; ran out into the 
bay ; also into a fog as thick as molasses, as dark as Ere- 
bus, and as cold as the shady side of an iceberg. All 
that long night, until two hours after daylight, we rolled 
and wallowed in the waters of the bay. The fog was so 
thick that it was unsafe to run by compass, or even to 
start the boat ahead. There was not a bed or a blanket 
on board. In my exhausted condition, with no place to 
lie or even to sit down, I suffered dreadfully. Some of 
the boys finally hunted up an old sail, wrapped it around 
me, and laid me away on a cushioned seat in the pilot- 
house. I slept through all the racket, until we reached 
the dock at Camden, where I was taken to the residence 
of a hospitable [Republican, had a bath and a bed, and 
slept until election morning. 

That was an exciting election day. It settled the 
presidential contest. Ohio and Indiana, if I rightly re- 
member, then held their state elections on the same 
first Monday in October. I was admitted to the rooms 
of the committee. At frequent intervals during the day 
reports came from many sections that the election was 
very quiet, men were keeping their promises, and all 
seemed to be going well. But there were no results for 



14: RECOLLECTIONS OP PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

comparison until evening, when the large hall was packed, 
and the street in front completely blocked by an expect- 
ant crowd, awaiting the announcement of victory or 
defeat in the most important election since the Declara- 
tion of Independence. It was arranged that the reports 
from other states should come through state committees. 
Those in Pennsylvania came through many sources. 

The first figures were from Ohio. Names I have for- 
gotten, nor are they material. Call this one Dover. 
The operator read out, " Dover, Eepublican first time. 
Seventy majority. Last year one hundred and ten Dem- 
ocratic." Some one started a cheer; others shouted, 
" Hush !" The next was from a Democratic county in 
Pennsylvania. It announced a Democratic majority of, 
say seventy. One who held the record of the last cor- 
responding votes added instantly to the despatch, " A 
Democratic loss of ninety votes." The silence was still 
unbroken. Another Pennsylvania despatch : " C. beats 
D. by eighty, and is elected." The reader of the record 
adds, " A Republican gain of a member ; a Democratic 
loss on the vote of nearly two hundred." A Republi- 
can, with powerful voice, exclaimed, " That means that 
Abraham Lincoln is the next President of the United 
States, and Andrew Curtin the next Governor of Penn- 
sylvania !" The roar of triumph that went up from that 
crowd was enough to have started the roof from its fas- 
tenings. It was caught up outside as the signal of vic- 
tory, and the sound of human voices suppressed the sound 
of cannon, which instantly commenced a salute of one 
hundred guns. It might well have been impressive, for 
it was Republican notice to the world that the people 
had decreed, in the words of Washington, that " the 
Union must be preserved !" 

The announcement was accidental ; it was dangerously 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 15 

premature. Prudent men were very anxious lest it might 
be necessary to recall it. But the despatches came in 
rapid succession as fast as the operator could read 
them faster than the vote could be compared with that 
of preceding years. Their tenor was constant Republi- 
can gains, Democratic losses ! "When the returns upon 
the state ticket began to come in, the average improved. 
It was nearly ten o'clock, and not until we knew that 
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, and probably Illinois, 
had gone Republican, that some remote little precinct, 
far up the Alleghany Mountains, reported the first tri- 
fling Democratic gain. There was a howl of derision, 
when some one said, " I know that place. It's where 
they are still voting for Jefferson and Burr." 

As soon as it was known to a certainty that we had 
carried these four states, I quietly elbowed my way 
through the crowd to my hotel, with a thankful heart 
for the victory. The mighty crowd was celebrating it 
without the least evidence of rioting or disorder. There 
was but little sleep that night ; all this noise and crowd 
was directly underneath my window. But I was so 
weary that a battery of artillery, engaged in target-prac- 
tice in the next room, would not have kept me awake. 
I was asleep within a minute after my head rested on 
the pillow, and for ten hours nothing disturbed me. It 
was eight o'clock next morning when a delegation from 
the committee called, to ascertain what disposition I had 
made of myself, and, as it happened, to give me iny first 
lesson in " Practical Politics." 

" How many city members of Congress do the Repub- 
licans elect?" I asked. "When I left you last night 
almost everything else was settled; but the Congres- 
sional vote was the last counted, and no complete returns 
were in from any district. Is Judge Kelley defeated?" 



16 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

" I should think not !" replied one of my visitors. 
" We have swept the decks. We have elected four con- 
gressmen from this city, sure. When I left the commit- 
tee-rooms they were debating whether they should per- 
mit the Democrats to count in the other. It hadn't been 
decided." 

" Counting in," I exclaimed " what do you mean by 
** counting in a member ?" " You poor, unsophisticated 
Vermonter," he said, " you pretend you don't know what 
* counting in ' means ! You must have played the count- 
ing-out games of children ! This is the same thing, only 
it works the other way." 

Young men will better comprehend the progress back- 
ward of politics within a little more than a fourth of a 
century when I say that my guilelessness was not at all 
assumed. I was born in a community in which the casting 
of a ballot was regarded as a solemn and serious duty. In 
my boyhood, election meetings were opened with prayer, 
and until the vote was counted there was no act unbefit- 
ting the church in which the elections were always held. 
I had never heard of " counting out " or " counting in " a 
candidate. The suggestion dawned upon me like a sug- 
gestion of a crime. Such remarks make no impression 
now. I have become too familiar with the practice, pro- 
fessionally and otherwise. The person referred to after- 
wards became a Democratic leader. I still occasionally 
meet him, but never without recalling this observation 
with a sensation which is neither creditable to him nor 
agreeable to myself. 



III. 

OFFICE-SEEKING BY AN INEXPERIENCED CANDIDATE. APPOINT- 
MENT TO THE PEACE CONFERENCE. SENATOR FOOT, OF VER- 
MONT. HIS PREMONITIONS OF REBELLION. 

THE October elections decided the presidential contest. 
Pennsylvania was the keystone. " As goes Pennsylva- 
nia, so goes the Union !" was the slogan of all the politi- 
cal clans. The praises which were the reward of my 
services in Pennsylvania naturally increased my estimate 
of the value of those services, so that when I returned to 
my law office I looked about to see what office would 
suitably reward me. I had been treading out corn for a 
month the Kepublicans would not muzzle the ox that 
treadeth out the corn the laborer was worthy of his re- 
ward, and I did not doubt that I should be strongly sup- 
ported as a candidate for any place in my own state for 
which I might apply. The collectorship of the port 
would, as I thought, just suit me the salary was not 
large under two thousand dollars, but it was the largest 
in the state in the gift of the President, and therefore 
best worthy of my attention. 

Mindful of the success of the traditional early bird, I 
would take time by the forelock and secure the support 
of my Republican friends before any other candidate 
started in the race. I would not even wait for the elec- 
tion. I would begin now. I prepared letters to leading 
Republicans in all parts of the state. I am sure they 
were models. I put the whole responsibility upon my 
friends. Personally, I said, I was rather disinclined to 
2 



18 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

take the office but my friends were so persistent they 
insisted that I ought to receive some substantial reward 
that my appointment would do credit to the state, to 
myself, and the party. I had decided to take their ad- 
vice. If the gentleman addressed agreed with them, 
would he kindly furnish me with his written- recommen- 
dation to the President for my appointment ? 

The result was a trifle disappointing in two respects. 
My friends, "all with one consent, began to make ex- 
cuse." Every one had pledged himself months before 
to some one else. Candidates were as numerous as the 
counties. A few answered that they would stand by me 
if I said so, although it would embarrass them to recede 
from their pledges. The general tenor of the correspond- 
ence might be poetically expressed in the solemn words, 
" Too late ! Too late ! Ye cannot enter now." 

October, November, December passed; Lincoln and 
Hamlin were known to be elected. What power was it 
that closed our eyes to current events and their conse- 
quences ? The people of the South were infatuated of 
the North, blind ! blind ! Was it one of those mysterious 
ways in which the Almighty works his sovereign will, 
which led to the sealing up of Northern eyes ? Day after 
day we saw the funds of the United States transferred to 
Southern depositories ; cannon, small-arms, and military 
supplies transferred to Southern arsenals ; Southern lead- 
ers seizing upon and appropriating moneys which the 
United States held in trust for wards of the nation. 
South Carolina called a convention which passed an or- 
dinance of secession, without one dissenting vote. Her 
representatives and senators in Congress shook the dust 
of Washington from their feet and left the capital, with 
insult and contumely for the Union on their lips ; every 
Southern state engaged openly in preparations for the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 19 

destruction of the Union ; and while all this was going 
on the people of the North went, one to his cattle, an- 
other to his merchandise, and if they cast a glance at the 
angry clouds gathering in the Southern sky, declared 
that they might result in a sprinkle, but that we should 
not have much of a shower after all ! To us the Union 
was the ark of our covenant, men might rage and bluster 
and threaten, but to touch it with unhallowed hands in- 
volved a measure of depravity of which we believed no 
American capable. 

That fine old merchant, manufacturer, and patriot, 
Erastus Fairbanks, was then Governor of Vermont. On 
Saturday, the second day of February, late in the day, he 
telegraphed me that he wished me to lay aside all busi- 
ness, and leave Burlington that evening for Washington 
that I was appointed a member of a delegation my 
associates would meet me on the train one of his aids 
would bring us our commissions, with the few suggestions 
he thought proper to make to us. I obeyed his injunction. 
When the train reached Troy, there were on board of 
it Gen. H. H. Baxter, ex-Governor Hall, Messrs. Un- 
derwood, Harris, and myself. There, a letter from 
the governor was handed us, stating that we were dele- 
gates appointed to represent Vermont in a Peace Confer- 
ence called by Governor Letcher, of Virginia, to be held 
in Washington on the 4th of February, only two days 
later. Governor Fairbanks bound us by no instructions, 
made but one brief recommendation. It was that we 
should consult with our delegation in Congress, and then 
represent Vermont in the conference according to her 
principles and her traditions, witholding nothing that 
ought to be surrendered, submitting to nothing that was 
wrong, unjust, or inconsistent with Republican principles. 

We reached Washington on time ; other delegates 



20 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

boarding the train as it passed through New York, New 
Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. We went to Willard's, 
then the principal hotel, owned by two young Yermont- 
ers, who informed us that the city was crowded with 
strangers, principally from the South. 

With a brief delay to clear ourselves from the dust of 
travel, we drove to the Capitol. Senator Foot was the 
only member of the Yermont delegation we found there. 
We knew him at home as a prudent, cautious, rather re- 
tiring statesman, very conservative in his views, and 
eminently cautious in his expressions, in short, a typical 
Yermonter in whom all Yermonters had unlimited con- 
fidence. He met us with his usual cordiality, but the first 
mention of the Peace Conference appeared to enrage him. 

" It is a fraud, a trick, a deception," he exclaimed, " a 
device of traitors and conspirators again to cheat the 
North and to gain time to ripen their conspiracy. I at 
first hoped Governor Fairbanks would pay no attention 
to it. I am now glad that he has sent delegates. At 
home they do not believe we are living here in a nest 
of traitors. You will be able to see and judge for your- 
selves I" 

Ex-Governor Hall, one of the most amiable of men, was 
shocked by the senator's violence. " You do not mean, 
senator," he said, " that we are on the eve of rebellion 
that there is danger ?" 

" That is precisely what I do mean," he said ; " the plot 
to seize the Capitol and prevent the inauguration of 
Lincoln is already formed they will prevent the count- 
ing of the votes, if they dare. Their chief present diffi- 
culty is want of time. That time you are to assist them 
in gaining by useless debates in a misnamed Peace Con- 
ference. But you have no need to take my word for it. 
Keep your eyes open and judge for yourselves !" 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 21 

" "We are here for consultation," continued Governor 
Hall ; " we have decided to do nothing except upon con- 
sultation and the advice of our delegation in Congress." 

"I think you are wise in that," said the senator. 
" There are no divided counsels in the delegation. We all 
think alike, but possibly I express my opinions with the 
least reserve." 

As we were about to withdraw the senator observed : 
"There is one subject in addition which I ought to 
mention. I should speak plainly, possibly to your sur- 
prise. The city is overrun with Southerners. A few of 
them are gentlemen, but the large majority are roughs 
and adventurers, who profess great contempt for what 
they call the cowardice of Northern men. They are all 
armed they believe that Northern men will run rather 
than fight that they may be insulted with impunity. 
They will probably insult you. I believe street fights 
would be common if these fellows were not ruled with 
an iron hand by their leaders, who do not want any 
fighting until they are prepared. Northern men now 
carry arms who never carried them before, and are pre- 
pared to defend themselves. I think each individual 
must determine such matters for himself. I have de- 
cided that, so long as I represent Vermont as one of her 
senators, I shall express my opinions touching her in- 
terests upon all proper occasions in such language as I 
deem consistent with the dignity and position of a sena- 
tor. If assaulted or insulted for such expressions, I 
shall undertake to defend the honor of Vermont. I do 
not believe in fighting, nor in submitting to the charge 
of cowardice. These men are traitors, conspirators, 
rebels, leagued together for the destruction of the Union. 
I do not hesitate to tell them so to their faces !" 

"Senator!" exclaimed one of our number, astounded 



22 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

at these expressions from one ordinarily so prudent and 
self-controlled. " Do you advise us to prepare for street 
fights ? to carry pistols ? If I had a loaded pistol in my 
pocket I should feel as if I were preparing to commit a 
burglary." 

" I advise nothing," he responded, " I am merely put- 
ting you upon your guard. You are Vermonters ; you 
know how to defend your state and yourselves. After 
you have been here a few days you will judge for your- 
selves whether it will be wise for you to carry arms." 



IV. 

NOTES ON THE PEACE CONFERENCE. THE PLANS OF THE CON- 
SPIRATORS. ADAM GUROWSKI. JAMES S. WADSWORTH. 

I DO not aspire to the dignity of a historian. I am not 
writing a history of the Peace Conference. I may, how- 
ever, venture to hope that the incidents I shall describe 
may be of use to future historians. They concern the 
very origin of the rebellion. The Peace Conference was 
a prelude to the bloody drama which followed it, and its 
record must be read and understood by those who would 
comprehend in their chronological order the events 
which ended all hope of a peaceful solution of the long- 
pending controversy between freedom and slavery by 
the opening gun against Fort Sumter. 

Willard's great hotel, like a parasitic plant, had grad- 
ually grown around and taken in an old "Washington 
church, which was then called Willard's Hall. Here the 
members of the Conference were notified to assemble. 
They found that its self-appointed managers had attend- 
ed to all the preliminary work. Without any effort to 
ascertain who were commissioned as members, a tempo- 
rary chairman and secretary were elected, and a Com- 
mittee on Kules and Organization was appointed. An 
uninstructed member then moved the admission of re- 
porters for the press, a large number of whom were 
then waiting at the door, directed, as the member said, to 
make public the proceedings of the most important con- 
ference which had been held since the adoption of the 
Federal Constitution. 



24: EECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

Mr. James A. Seddon, of Virginia, who assumed the 
duties of managing director of the Conference, objected. 
He did not see that any good could possibly come of giv- 
ing publicity to its proceedings. Wide differences of 
opinion would be found to exist at the outset; these 
were to be harmonized by mutual concessions and com- 
promises. The interference and criticisms of the press, 
he said, would destroy every hope of success. Members 
would not have the courage to consent to necessary 
compromises if they were subjected to the daily attacks 
of the newspapers. If the Conference was to produce 
any good results, it must transact its business behind 
closed doors. The motion to admit the reporters, to use 
the Southern phrase, " passed in the negative." 

The programme arranged for tjie three following days 
was followed without the slightest change. The Repub- 
licans contented themselves by looking on, without any 
interference with the harmony of the proceedings. Ex- 
President John Tyler was made permanent president, a 
series of rules was reported by the committee and 
adopted ; a Committee on Credentials was then appoint- 
ed and made an immediate report ; a Committee on 
Resolutions, consisting of one member from each state 
represented, to which all resolutions and propositions for 
the adjustment of existing difficulties between states 
were to be referred without debate, was appointed by 
the president. 

After some informal consultations among themselves, 
the Republican members decided that the time had ar- 
rived for them to take a more active part in the exer- 
cises. One of them, after remarking that a record of the 
resolutions introduced and disposed of should be pre- 
served for future use, moved the appointment of a re- 
cording secretary. Another insisting that every mem- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 25 

ber should be accurately reported, and should be able to 
show to his constituents what he had said as well as how 
he had voted, moved the appointment of an official 
stenographer, who should take notes of the debates and 
hold them subject to the order of the Conference. Both 
motions were promptly rejected. 

I obtained the bad distinction of casting the first fire- 
brand into the inflammable materials of the Conference. 
I introduced a formal resolution for the appointment of 
a stenographer, which was laid on the table. I then ob- 
served that it was a part of my duty to make an accu- 
rate report of all that transpired in the Conference to 
the Executive of Yermont ; that I was no stenographer, 
and did not crave the labor I was about to undertake ; 
that, after the votes declining to make any record or to 
preserve the materials from which a record might after- 
wards be made, I intended openly to take notes and 
make the best report of the debates and record of the 
proceedings I could, and to make such use of them as I 
thought proper. 

Then there was trouble. The Southerners and their 
Northern allies were furious. No member, they said, 
had a right to disregard the vote of the Conference. 
One demanded that the Committee on Rules should im- 
mediately report a vote of censure ; another demanded 
my expulsion, unless I would promise obedience. Mr. 
Seddon called up an amendment he had offered to the 
report of the Committee on Rules, prohibiting any com- 
munication of the proceedings except by members to 
the states they represented, and called for a vote upon it. 

There was great confusion. A dozen Southerners, each 
offering different remedies, were all trying to speak at 
the same time. There was but one remark from a 
Northern delegate William Curtis Noyes, with a quiet 



26 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

emphasis which cut like a finely tempered sabre, said 
that there was a considerable body of delegates on that 
floor who intended to secure the rights of every indi- 
vidual delegate. President Tyler, whose discretion never 
deserted him, saw that the time for his interference had 
come. He sternly commanded and restored order. He 
announced peremptorily that the proposed attempt to 
control the individual conduct of an orderly member, and 
to interfere with his communications to his constituents, 
was unparliamentary and out of order. The amend- 
ment of Mr. Seddon, by the rule already adopted, must 
be referred to the Committee. Order was restored, the 
storm passed, and the skies were clear again. 

Among the singular people at that time collected in 
Washington, perhaps the most extraordinary person was 
Adam Gurowski. I came to know him intimately after- 
wards, but neither myself nor any one else, so far as I 
could ascertain, ever knew anything of his previous 
history or of what country he was a native. He was a 
fine scholar and writer, with an excellent command of 
language ; a brilliant conversationalist in all the modern 
European tongues. He claimed acquaintance with sev- 
eral crowned heads and many of the statesmen of Eu- 
rope, was perfectly familiar with diplomatic usages, a 
gentleman in dress and carriage. "Without any very 
definite knowledge, I formed the conclusion that he was 
a Russian, who had been connected with the diplomatic 
service, but compelled to leave Europe on account of 
opinions which were somewhat erratic, if they were not 
revolutionary and socialistic. He was unobtrusive, yet 
he managed to form the acquaintance of everybody 
of any note, and usually to secure their good opinion. 
Diplomatists, cabinet officers, senators, and members of 
the House everybody was accessible to him and re- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 27 

ceived him on a familiar footing. He was the firm 
friend of the North, and entertained an inveterate hatred 
of slavery and its influence. I mention him here, be- 
cause I afterwards learned that his ability to obtain re- 
liable information of important facts was phenomenal. 
His conclusions were usually accurate, though probably 
in great part the result of intuition. Within a week 
after our arrival in Washington, we found ourselves con- 
versing with Gurowski upon the footing of an acquaint- 
ance, and I believe he had made himself known to 
every Northern member of the Conference. 

On the evening of the day of our first flurry in the 
Conference, Gurowski called at the rooms where the 
Northern members were accustomed to confer. 

" Do I intrude ?" he asked. " I felt it my duty to call 
at once and congratulate you. You are beginning to 
experience the maternal cares of the ' mother of the 
presidents,' ' even as a hen gathereth her chickens un- 
der her wing,' etc. How do you Northern gentlemen 
like the experience ?" 

We denied his knowledge of what had been done in 
the Conference. He related its action, the substance of 
the speeches, the president's decision, with perfect ac- 
curacy. 

" You will make a mess of it between you," he said. 
" These conspirators do not know how to conspire, and 
you Republicans ! I don't know how to take you. Are 
you lambs to be eaten up unresistingly by the wolves of 
secession ? Or are you fishes with blood so cold that it 
cannot be stirred to action? Don't you know the de- 
tails of the plot ? I can give them to you to the dotting 
of every i and the crossing of every t from the first 
capital to the final period. If you knew them as I do, 
you would not be wasting your time in Washington." 



28 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

I shall give Gurowski's version, not because I think it 
should be accepted upon his evidence, but because it pre- 
sents in a compact form a plan of which subsequent 
events furnished strong confirmatory proof. 

" Mr. Lincoln's election," he said, " decided the ques- 
tion of secession. The leaders agreed that the electoral 
vote should not be counted, that his election should not 
be officially declared. General Cass was to be quarrelled 
out of the Cabinet. Mr. Buchanan, naturally infirm of 
purpose and weakened by age, could be controlled by 
the remaining members, while as much as possible of 
the national property was transferred into the Southern 
states. South Carolina was to secede at once other 
states to follow as fast as possible "Washington was to 
be packed with fighting Southerners, and on the 13th of 
February, during the count of the electoral vote, a riot 
was to be started in the House, the Capitol and the de- 
partments seized, and a new confederacy proclaimed 
with Jefferson Davis as President ad interim. 

" Floyd and Cobb had upset the entire plan by their 
premature and criminal acts, which drove them from the 
Cabinet, and brought in General Dix and Mr. Stanton. 
General Cass had been driven out as they intended, but 
in a brief spasm of resolution Mr. Buchanan had insisted 
upon putting Judge Black in his place, and Judge Black 
could not be trusted by the South. General Scott also 
had made an unexpected difficulty. Old and rheumatic 
as he was, he had declined to submit to temptation or 
control; he had smelt the danger, collected such regu- 
lars from the army as he could in Washington, and had 
given the plotters notice that the first one that laid a 
hand of force on the government should be shot down 
without trial, mercy, or delay. When Congress convened 
in December, the plot to prevent the count of the elec- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 29 

toral vote was a failure. There had been too many 
rogues and fools admitted into the counsels of the con- 
spirators. 

" Then a new conspiracy had to be formed. It was 
agreed that Jefferson Davis should be its head and gen- 
eral manager. Special work might be assigned by him 
to individuals, but he alone should determine how far 
others should be admitted to a knowledge of its details. 
It dated from the day, or rather the night, of the 5th of 
January, when Judah Benjamin, Slidell, Mallory, and 
Mason met at the house of Mr. Davis in Washington. 
It was then agreed that the electoral vote should be 
counted and the result declared. All the senators and 
representatives should remain in Congress, drawing their 
pay, until their respective states had seceded. South 
Carolina was already out of the Union. In the Gulf 
states, secession should be hastened as much as possible. 
Slidell and Mallory were to prepare a plan for the con- 
federacy and to call a convention of the seceded states 
to adopt it at Montgomery, Alabama, not later than the 
middle of February. The Border states could not be 
voted out of the Union in time, but they were nearest 
"Washington, and could provide the men to seize the 
government on the 4th of March, to which date the 
rebellion was now postponed. 

" Here," exclaimed Gurowski, " comes in the most dis- 
reputable part of the conspiracy. The people of the 
free states, their representatives in Congress, were to be 
played with like children. They were to be entertained 
by the hope of an arrangement, of some peaceful settle- 
ment of the controversy, which, at the fall election, 
passed irrevocably beyond the limits of peaceful settle- 
ment. This part of the plot was committed to Mr. 
Mason. Virginia, the home of Washington, the mother 



30 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

of the presidents, should apparently intervene to save 
the Union. Her legislature was in session ; her governor 
should invite the states to send delegates to a conference 
to be held in Washington, to agree upon terms of com- 
promise and peace. The North would respond, the con- 
ference would occupy the time until March 4th, and so 
long as such a conference existed the North would 
sleep on undisturbed, doing nothing in the way of prep- 
aration until awakened by the sound of revolutionary 
cannon on the morning appointed for Mr. Lincoln's in- 
auguration. 

" The rest you know," he continued. " Here you are 
permitting yourselves to be used as the instruments of a 
treasonable conspiracy, when you ought to be at home, 
organizing and drilling your regiments, preparing to de- 
fend the only government worth living under left upon 
the face of the earth. 

" Adieu, gentlemen," said the old man, politely taking 
his leave ; " I have made my little speech. I have told 
you plain truths, because I love this republic, how well 
you will never know until you have passed through my 
experiences, from which may the Almighty Father pro- 
tect and preserve you." 

There was present one of the noblest men ever pro- 
duced by this or any country, who afterwards laid down 
his life for the Union he was the model of an Amer- 
ican gentleman James S. Wadsworth, of New York. 

" I suppose that man is a crazy foreigner," said Mr. 
Wadsworth, " but I do wish there were not so much 
method nor quite so much intelligence in his madness. 
If he is half right, our position here deserves the con- 
tempt of the world. Yet we cannot deny that, with few 
exceptions, the Northern press hailed the invitation of 
Virginia to this Conference with favor and commen- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 31 

dation. It urged the Northern states to accept it, to 
send as delegates their most conservative and compro- 
mising men. It gives me a chill to think how carefully 
the state of New York has made up her delegation. 
Subtract one member from it, and the South to-day 
controls one half that delegation. I begin to think it is 
time we held a caucus, and found how many members 
we have upon whom we could absolutely rely." 

There was swift assent to Mr. Wadsworth's sugges- 
tion. Different members undertook to notify a caucus 
to be held the following evening. Mr. Clay, of Ken- 
tucky, George W. Summers, of Virginia, and other 
Southern members came in, and there was no opportu- 
nity for further consultation. 



V. 

AN OFFICIAL CALL UPON THE PRESIDENT. IT UNITES THE 
LOYAL MEMBERS OF THE CONFERENCE. 

THERE was but little for the Conference to do until the 
Committee had reported their propositions for the amend- 
ment of the Constitution. President Tyler, on the 7th of 
February, announced that an official call upon the Presi- 
dent was a manifest duty of the Conference, that he 
had made the necessary arrangements, and the President 
would receive us immediately upon the adjournment. 
This call was so clearly a part of the programme that 
no objection was made to it. Preceded by the Vir- 
ginia delegation, with President Tyler at its head, we 
marched to the Executive Mansion with the solemnity 
of a funeral procession. 

It was to the Northern members a memorable call. It 
would be more agreeable to omit any account of it, as I 
should certainly do, were it not that the Executive was 
a factor in the existing situation which cannot be com- 
prehended unless the measure of his influence is under- 
stood. We went to the White House, believing that the 
President, the sworn defender of the Constitution, the 
head of the army and the navy, held in his own hands 
the power to command all the resources of the republic 
for the crushing of secession and the suppression of 
treason. We came away convinced that, so far as the 
defence of the Union depended upon him, the barrier 
against secession was so frail that a breath would blow 
it away. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 33 

"We found the venerable President advanced in years, 
shaken in body, and uncertain in mind. He exhibited 
every symptom of an old man worn out by worry. No 
one doubted his personal fidelity to his country, but 
every action, all his conversation with the delegates, in- 
dicated that his mind was completely unsettled by appre- 
hension and anxiety. He received every person presented 
with effusion, with uncontrollable emotion. His thoughts 
ran exclusively upon compromise and concession. It was 
very painful to see him throw his arms around the neck 
of one stranger after another, and, with streaming eyes, 
beg of him to yield anything to save his country from 
" bloody, fratricidal war." This appeared to be his favor- 
ite phrase. He used it many, many times. He had not 
one word of condemnation for disunion, secession, or 
treason. He appeared to look upon the South as a 
deeply injured party, to which the North owed apology 
and promise of better conduct in future. It was natural 
that the South should resent assaults upon her domestic 
institutions, he said, and that she should demand, if not 
indemnity for the past, at least security for the future. 
That security the Conference could give. By consent- 
ing to the amendments to the Constitution which the 
South demanded, because they were indispensable to sat- 
isfy the Southern people, the Conference could give peace 
to a distracted country, and save the Union ! What a 
noble object ! What a patriotic work ! How could we 
stop to measure concessions which would produce such 
grand results ? 

His remarks were noticeable for what they did not, 
as well as for what they did, comprise. They were so 
nearly identical with those of the Secession delegates as 
to suggest consultation. They did not contain the slight- 
est reference to his successor or to his incoming adminis- 
3 



34 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

tration. When a delegate suggested that, by the elec- 
tion of Mr. Lincoln, the people had pronounced judgment 
upon the important claims now made by the South, and 
that the Conference had no power to reverse that judg- 
ment, there was an immediate interference in the con- 
versation by several of the Southern delegates, and a 
diversion to other topics. Such a reference was evi- 
dently inconsistent with the preconcerted harmony of 
the visit. 

" What do you think of it ?" said one Northern dele- 
gate to another, after witnessing a number of repetitions 
of the emotional conduct of the President as different 
members were presented to him. 

" These views are not original with President Buchan- 
an," he said. " They are the doctrines of Sir Boyle 
Roche, the inimitable maker of Irish bulls. He de- 
clared emphatically that he would give up a part, and, 
if necessary, the whole of the Constitution, to preserve the 
remainder /" 

This call upon the President produced an impression 
very different from that anticipated by those who 
brought it about. It was well known that disagree- 
ments in the Cabinet had arisen. General Cass had been 
compelled to resign. The position of Secretary Stanton 
was not, at that time, known to us. The despatch of 
General Dix to Hemphill Jones, "If any man hauls 
down the American flag, shoot him on the spot !" had 
sent a thrill through the North, showing that there was 
one member of the Cabinet who was true to his country. 
Now, it was plain to the delegates that a disorganized 
and divided Cabinet, with its President thus broken in 
mind and body, formed an Executive Department in no 
condition to cope with the adroit, energetic agents of 
secession. The dangers of the situation became appar- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 35 

ent. Months of debate could not have united the North- 
ern delegates together so firmly as the insensible influ- 
ence of this formal call. Even before they left the White 
House, many had decided that loyal men of all shades of 
political opinion must now stand together in a firm pur- 
pose to maintain the integrity of an unbroken Union, 
and to resist all further aggressions of the slave power. 
That evening a caucus was held, attended by nearly 
every Republican delegate who had supported Mr. Lin- 
coln. Mr. Chase was made its permanent chairman. A 
resolution was adopted to the effect that no action 
should be taken in the Conference which the Republi- 
cans could delay, until it had been first considered in 
the caucus. Since probably none but national ques- 
tions would arise in the Conference, upon which there 
would be only slight differences in Northern opinion, it 
was decided that the co-operation of all loyal Democrats 
should be cordially invited. From that time the Repub- 
lican delegates acted as a compactly united body. 



VI. 

ANOTHER OFFICIAL CALL. GENERAL SCOTT. HIS LOYALTY 
AND ITS INFLUENCE UPON THE DECLARATION OF THE ELEC- 
TORAL VOTE. 

THE 13th of February, the day appointed by law for 
counting the electoral vote, was rapidly approaching. 
The impression was almost universal that the count 
would not be interrupted that the project of seizing 
the government by force was postponed to the 4th of 
March, the day of inauguration. Still, there were many 
indications, very troublesome to patriotic minds. The 
influx of Southerners into Washington increased. Every 
available room in the hotels, boarding or private houses, 
was crowded with guests. They took full possession of 
all the saloons and places where liquor was sold. One 
of their favorite pastimes was to collect in front of the 
liquor saloons and jostle or crowd the " white-livered, 
black Republicans" and women into the street. The 
Northern visitors to the capital were careful to avoid all 
collision with them. 

The air was filled with rumors. Few Northern men in 
the city doubted that a conspiracy to seize the govern- 
ment existed among the trusted leaders of secession; 
that the force to execute it was organized, armed, and to 
be furnished by the adjacent states of Maryland and 
Virginia ; and that the brutal horde which at that time 
infested the streets of Washington was a part of that 
force. Whether any adequate preparations had been 
made for the defence of the city against such a force, we 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 37 

did not know. There was, consequently, a general feel- 
ing of uneasiness ; and if a revolution had broken out at 
any time, it would not have caused much surprise. I 
should have mentioned that the argument for excluding 
the public from the debates of the Conference which had 
the most force with the Eepublicans was that the trait- 
ors might seize upon any confusion or disorder that 
should arise as an excuse for a riot, or an armed attack 
upon the officers employed to enforce order, and thus 
give the signal for open rebellion. 

On the 8th of February, after a brief session of the 
Conference, filled with this feeling of anxious uncertainty, 
I determined, somewhat impulsively, to call upon Gen- 
eral Scott, and learn whether any preparations had been 
made to secure the undisturbed counting of the electoral 
vote, and declaration of the result on the following 
Wednesday, only five days later. His headquarters 
were then in Winder's Building, opposite the old War 
Department, which at that time was under the control 
of Judge Holt, the loyal successor of the criminal Floyd. 
I sent in my card with my address written upon it, and 
without the least delay was shown by Colonel Townsend, 
one of his aides, into the private room of the lieutenant- 
general. The grand old man lay upon a sofa. He 
raised his gigantic frame to a sitting posture. There 
was infirmity in the movements of his body, but it 
was forgotten the moment he spoke, for there was no 
suspicion of weakness in his mind. 

" A Chittenden of Vermont !" he said. " Why, that 
was a good name when Ethan Allen took Ticonderoga ! 
I know the Vermonters I have commanded them in 
battle. Well, Yermont must be as true to-day as she 
has always been. What can the commander of the 
army do for Vermont ?" 



38 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

" Very little, at present," I answered. " I called to 
pay you my personal respects. You may, however, do 
me and some others a favor. In common with many 
loyal men, I am anxious about the count of the electoral 
vote on next "Wednesday. Many fear that the vote will 
not be counted nor the result declared." 

" Pray tell me why it will not be counted ?" he asked, 
without any apparent effort, but with a voice which rang 
like an order through a clear-toned trumpet. " There 
have been threats on that subject," he continued, " but I 
have heard nothing of them recently. I supposed I had 
suppressed that infamy. Has it been resuscitated? I 
have said that any man who attempted by force or un- 
parliamentary disorder to obstruct or interfere with the 
lawful count of the electoral vote for President and Vice- 
President of the United States should be lashed to the 
muzzle of a twelve-pounder and fired out of a window 
of the Capitol. I would manure the hills of Arlington 
with fragments of his body, were he a senator or chief 
magistrate of my native state ! It is my duty to sup- 
press insurrection my duty /" 

It had been upon my lips to ask him whether he had 
any adequate force to stamp out a revolution in the 
capital ; but it was awkward to do so. He spoke of his 
duty as something inevitable ; its performance was not 
to be doubted. Accordingly, I said : 

" Permit me to express my gratitude, general. There 
is relief, encouragement, satisfaction in your assurance. 
The Vermont delegation will sleep more quietly to-night 
when they hear it.'' 

" I will say further," he continued, " that I do not be- 
lieve there is any immediate danger of revolution. That 
there has been, I know. But the leaders of secession are 
doubtful about the result. They are satisfied that some- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 39 

body would get hurt. I have the assurance of the Yice- 
President of the United States that he will announce the 
election of the President and Vice-President, and that 
no appeal to force will be attempted. His word is reli- 
able. A few drunken ro wdies may risk and lose their 
lives ; there will be nothing which deserves the name of 
a revolution. But no promises relieve me from my duty. 
"While I command the army there will be no revolution 
in the city of "Washington !" 

I made no secret of this interview with General Scott. 
It soon became known that, although he was suffering 
intensely from disease, he was always to be found at 
his quarters, and that he was the most accessible public 
man in Washington. His visitors were numerous. Every 
loyal man left his presence with his hopes for the future 
strengthened, his faith renewed, his confidence in the 
General of the Army absolute, his principal regret be- 
ing that such a tried and true patriot could not exert a 
more powerful influence upon the administration. There 
was an energy in the emphatic declarations of this loyal 
veteran which compelled belief, even in the hearts of 
traitors, that he understood his duty, and had accurately 
estimated his own ability to insure its performance. 



YIL 

THE 13 TH OF FEBRUARY, 1861. THE ELECTION OF PRESIDENT 
LINCOLN DECLARED. FIRMNESS OF VICE-PRESIDENT BRECK- 
INRIDGE. ANGER OF THE SECESSIONISTS. 

ALL governments have their crises. Our republic 
never escaped one more alarming than that of February 
13th, 1861. It was the day appointed for the seizure of 
Washington. Preparations had been made ; armed bod- 
ies of men had been enlisted and drilled, and many of 
them had reported in the city pursuant to orders. When 
the managers were compelled to postpone the rebellion, 
these recruits declined to accept the necessity or to put 
off the opening drama. They had assembled for a revo- 
lution with its natural consequences booty and plun- 
der ; any delay was felt to be a personal injury to each 
individual. 

The sun rose in a cloudless sky on the morning of 
Wednesday, February 13th, the day appointed by law 
for counting the electoral vote and declaring the result. 
Train after train from the South, the West, and the 
North poured its volume of passengers into the streets 
of an already overcrowded city. As early as eight 
o'clock in the morning crowds began to climb the sides 
of Capitol Hill, every individual intent on securing a 
comfortable seat in the gallery of the hall in which the 
two Houses of Congress were to meet in joint assembly. 
They were doomed to disappointment. At every en- 
trance to the building stood a guard of civil but inflex- 
ible soldiers, sternly barring admission. Prayers, bribes, 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 41 

entreaties, oaths, objurgations, were alike unavailing. 
No one could pass except senators and representatives, 
and those who had the written ticket of admission 
signed by the Speaker of the House or the Vice-Presi- 
dent, the presiding officer of the Senate. Even mem- 
bers could not pass in their friends. Consequently the 
amount of profanity launched forth against the guards 
would have completely annihilated them if words could 
kill. The result was that, although solid humanity out- 
side could have been measured by the acre, the inside 
of the building was less crowded than usual, and there 
was no difficulty in passing from room to room in all 
parts of the Capitol. 

The members of the Conference had been, by vote, 
admitted to the floor of the House of Representatives. 
My certificate of membership enabled me to pass the 
guard without difficulty, and by the courtesy of a door- 
keeper I secured a seat in the gallery, where my view 
of the hall was unobstructed. 

By twelve o'clock the galleries were comfortably 
filled, and all the seats and standing-room in the hall 
were occupied, except the seats reserved for members of 
the two Houses. The Southerners were a vast major- 
ity ; in fact, except the members, there were very few 
persons present from the Northern states. To one who 
knew nothing of the hot treason which was seething 
beneath the quiet exterior of the spectators, the exer- 
cises would have appeared to be tame and uninter- 
esting. 

Except the guards at the entrances, there were no sol- 
diers visible. None were supposed to be present. A 
friend who resided in the city recognized me and took 
a seat by my side. Aware that he had organized a 
selected body of loyal men into a regiment, of which he 



42 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

was colonel, more than a month previously, I expressed 
my surprise at his presence in citizen's dress, and said, 
"I supposed you would be on duty to-day with your 
regiment." He smilingly replied, " We are minute men, 
you know ; that is, we enter a room as private citizens, 
and come out of it a minute afterwards, a regiment, 
armed with loaded repeating-rifles. Such a thing might 
happen here to-day, if the necessity arose. My men 
are within easy call, and their rifles are not far away. 
Some men get excited on election day, and require con- 
trol. However, I think this is to be a very quiet elec- 
tion." 

Two large connecting committee-rooms, on the north 
side of the hall, were, as I had noticed, inaccessible to 
all persons. This observation of the colonel explained 
the reason why. The House was now called to order, 
and my attention was directed to its proceedings. First, 
a message was ordered to be sent by the House to the 
Senate, informing senators that the House was in ses- 
sion, awaiting their presence, so that in a joint assem- 
bly the electoral votes for President and Yice-President 
might be opened and counted. 

There was a gathering of Southern members on the 
floor below me, which a young member from Virginia 
(whose name is omitted, because he is now, I have no 
doubt, an earnest friend of the Union) was addressing 
with much gesticulation. He was urging that then was 
"the best time to give them some music, before the 
Senate came in." At that moment the Senate of the 
United States was announced, and, preceded by Yice- 
President Breckinridge, the officers leading the way, 
the senators entered. The members of the House arose 
and remained standing, while the senators took their 
seats in a semicircle arranged for them in front of the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 43 

clerk's desk. The Vice-President was conducted to the 
chair. Senator Trumbull, and Messrs. Washburn and 
Phelps of the House, who had been appointed tellers, 
were shown to seats at the clerk's desk. Absolute 
silence prevailed throughout the hall. 

Yice-President Breckinridge rose, and in tones no 
louder than those of an ordinary conversation, but which 
were heard in the most distant corner of the gallery, 
announced that the two Houses were assembled, pur- 
suant to the Constitution, in order that the electoral 
votes might be counted for President and Yice-Presi- 
dent, for the term commencing on the fourth day of 
March, 1861. " It is my duty," he said, " to open the 
certificates of election in the presence of the two Houses, 
and I now proceed to the performance of that duty." 

There is an unmeasured, latent energy in the per- 
sonal presence of a strong man. If he could be remem- 
bered only for his services on that day, Yice-President 
Breckinridge would fill a high place in the gallery of 
American statesmen, and merit the permanent gratitude 
of the American people. He knew that the day was 
one of peril to the republic that he was presiding 
over what appeared to be a joint meeting of two delib- 
erative bodies, but which, beneath the surface, was a 
caldron of inflammable materials, heated almost to the 
point of explosion. But he had determined that the re- 
sult of the count should be declared, and his purpose was 
manifested in every word and gesture. Jupiter never 
ruled a council on Olympus with a firmer hand. It was 
gloved, but there was iron beneath the glove. 

One member rose " Except questions of order, no 
motion can be entertained," said the presiding officer. 
The member exclaimed that he wished to raise a point 
of order. " Was the count of the electoral vote to pro- 



44 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ceed under menace? Should members be required to 
perform a constitutional duty before the janizaries of 
Scott were withdrawn from the hall ?" " The point of 
order is not sustained," was the decision which sup- 
pressed the member, more by its emphasis than by its 
words. The presiding officer opened the envelope con- 
taining the electoral vote of Maine, handed it to Senator 
Trumbull, who read out the long certificate. The vote of 
Maine was announced for Lincoln and Hamlin. There 
was a slight ripple of applause which was instantly sup- 
pressed. Several other states followed, the reading of 
each record occupying some minutes. Senator Douglas 
suggested that the reading of the formal parts of the re- 
maining certificates be omitted. There was no objection, 
and the announcement and record of the votes proceeded 
rapidly to the end. The only interruption was an ex- 
pression of mingled contempt, respect, ridicule, and ven- 
eration when the vote of South Carolina was declared. 

In a silence absolutely profound, the Yice-President 
arose from his seat, and, standing erect, possibly the 
most dignified and imposing person in that presence, 
declared : 

" That Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, having received 
a majority of the whole number of electoral votes, is 
duly elected President of the United States for the four 
years beginning on the fourth day of March, 1861 ; and 
Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, having received a majority 
of the whole number of electoral votes, is duly elected 
Vice -President of the United States for the same term." 

The work of the joint meeting was completed. The 
Senate retired to its own chamber. The fuse was fired, 
the outbreak attempted, but the hoped-for explosion did 
not take place. Its object had failed ; the election of 
Abraham Lincoln by the people of the United States 



"AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 45 

had been proclaimed to the world. A dozen angry, 
disappointed men were on their feet before the door had 
closed upon the last senator, clamoring for recognition 
by the speaker. For a few minutes the tumult was so 
great that it was impossible to restore order. The con- 
centrated venom of the secessionists was ejected upon 
the General of the Army. There were jeers for the 
"rail-splitter," sharp and fierce shouts for "cheers for 
Jeff. Davis," and "cheers for South Carolina." But 
hard names and curses for " old Scott " broke out every- 
where on the floor and in the gallery of the crowded hall. 
The quiet spectators seemed in a moment turned to mad- 
men. " Superannuated old dotard !" " Traitor to the 
state of his birth !" " Coward !" " Free-state pimp !" and 
any number of similar epithets were showered upon 
him. Members called on the old traitor to remove his 
" minions," his " janizaries," his " hirelings," his " blue- 
coated slaves," from the Capitol. I glanced around me. 
The seat next me was empty ; my military friend, and 
the quiet gentlemen I had noticed near by, had van- 
ished where and for what purpose I knew only too 
well. For a few moments I thought they would offi- 
ciate in a revolution. 

It was, however, " vox et prceterea nihiir The power 
of the human lung is limited, and howling quickly ex- 
hausts it. The speaker soon pounded the House back 
to order, and the danger inside had passed. I went out 
at the north front of the Capitol, and, entering the first 
carriage I found, I ordered the colored driver to take 
me to my hotel. He drove through the crowd on that 
side without difficulty. It was orderly and undemon- 
strative, for just beyond the Square was the old Capitol, 
and along the street in front of it were two batteries of 
artillery, quiet themselves, but none the less causes of 



46 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

the quiet around them. The avenue in the direction 
of the Treasury was choked with a howling, angry mob. 
We escaped through one of the cross streets to F Street, 
and reached the rear entrance of Willard's Hotel. 

The mob had possession of the avenue far into the 
night. Reputable people kept in -doors, and left the 
patriots who were so injured by the election of Mr. 
Lincoln to consume bad whiskey and cheer for Jeff. 
Davis undisturbed. There was much street-fighting, 
many arrests by the police, but no revolution. 

I believed at that time, and I have never since doubt- 
ed, that the country was indebted for the peaceful count 
of the electoral vote, the proclamation of the election 
of Mr. Lincoln, and the suppression of an attempted 
revolution on that day, to the joint influence of Major- 
General Winfield Scott and Vice -President Breckin- 
ridge. A perfect understanding existed between them. 
General Scott knew that he could rely upon the prom- 
ised assistance of the Vice-President, who had repeat- 
edly declared that until the end of his term he should 
perform the duties of his office, under the sanction of 
his oath. Faithfully, without evasion or paltering with 
his conscience, after the manner of Cobb and Floyd, he 
kept his pledge. General Scott defined his purposes 
upon all proper occasions, especially to the apologists 
for secession, with emphasis, and if he was not misrep- 
resented, sometimes with an approach to profanity. 
When challenged by Wigfall, whether he would dare 
to arrest a senator of the United States for an overt 
act of treason, he was reported to have answered, " No ! 
I will blow him to h 1 !" These two men, both South- 
ern-born, on the 13th of February conducted the repub- 
lic safely through one of the most imminent perils that 
ever threatened its existence. 



VIII. 

ANOTHER INCIDENT OF FEBRUARY 13TH. JUDGE SMALLEY ON 
TREASON. SEIZURE OF ARMS IN NEW YORK CITY. ACTION 
OF ITS MAYOR. 

ANOTHER incident of the same 13th of February illus- 
trates the rapidity with which the spirit of national 
patriotism was overcoming the ties of party, and driv- 
ing good men into their true relations to the coming 
contest. Hon. David A. Smalley, of Vermont, had, in 
the nominating convention, powerfully contributed to, 
if he had not caused, the nomination of Mr. Buchanan. 
He was chairman of the Democratic National Commit- 
tee which conducted the successful campaign, and he 
had been rewarded by Mr. Buchanan with the appoint- 
ment of Judge of the Federal Court for the District of 
Vermont. The appointment was political, and few sup- 
posed that he would exhibit any sympathies of a higher 
type than those for his party. 

He proved a national disappointment, especially to 
those who imagined that he would carry his politics 
upon the bench, or that he would not interfere with 
treasonable practices, because indulged in by Southern 
Democrats. 

Judge Smalley held the January term of the Federal 
Court in the Southern District of New York. In his 
charge to the grand jury he had defined in vigorous 
terms the elements of the crime of treason, and the 
duty of grand juries to make inquest and present every 
guilty person. He was the first Federal judge who 



48 RECOLLECTIONS OP PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

mentioned the subject, and on that account and because 
of its energetic language the charge attracted wide 
attention, and one result of its influence was the seizure 
by the police of New York City of a consignment of 
arms to the state of Georgia, only a few days after the 
charge was delivered. This seizure was denounced in 
severe terms by Mayor Fernando Wood, in a corre- 
spondence with Senator Toombs of Georgia, as an unjus- 
tifiable and illegal interference with private property, 
for which the city of New York ought not to be held 
responsible, because the mayor, most unfortunately, had 
no control over the police, or he would have summarily 
punished such an outrage. This semi-proclamation of 
the mayor of New York had given great comfort to our 
Southern brethren in Washington, who regarded it as 
a guarantee against further interference with such ship- 
ments, and a sure indication that the commercial cities 
of the North, particularly New York, warmly sympa- 
thized with secession, and rejected the views of Judge 
Smalley. 

Nor was this conclusion of the active agents of seces- 
sion so remarkable as it may appear to the present gen- 
eration. Some weeks before Judge Smalley hurled his 
judicial bolt against Northern traitors, South Carolina 
had defined treason to consist in adhering to the enemies 
of that commonwealth, and giving them aid and com- 
fort ; a crime to be punished with death and an added 
penalty, supposed to be especially severe where Chris- 
tian observances were so universal, death without benefit 
of clergy ! A leading newspaper in Alabama had an- 
nounced that Mr. Lincoln's life would not be worth a 
week's purchase after a single gun had been fired against 
Fort Sumter. Mr. Benjamin had taken leave of the 
Senate in what he called " a conciliatory speech," in 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 49 

which he prophesied that the South could never be sub- 
jugated, a prediction received by the packed galleries 
with uproarious shouts of applause. When, after such 
expressions, the mayor of New York declared that inter- 
ference with the shipment of guns into the South, to be 
used against the government, was a lawless interference 
with private rights of property, it is not singular that 
inexperienced traitors deemed it safe to continue their 
treasonable commerce in contempt of Judge Smalley's 
charge. 

The announcement of the election of Mr. Lincoln was 
not the only act of oppression which the 13th of Feb- 
ruary imposed upon the persecuted agents of secession. 
They had shipped another consignment from New York, 
this time of fixed ammunition, on a steamer bound for 
the port of Charleston, and the incorrigible police, not 
having the fear of the mayor before their eyes, had 
seized and carried it away. Instead of ordering the 
ammunition to be released without notice and without 
delay, Judge Smalley had returned the papers to the 
lawyer who made the application, with an expression 
of his regret that the police "had not also seized the 
rascals who made the shipment." This seizure was the 
subject of extended comment in Washington, and among 
the secessionists the opinion was almost universal that 
they could not remain in a Union where such tyranny 
was tolerated. 



IX. 

AN ALTERCATION IN THE PEACE CONFERENCE. SENATOR LOT 
M. MORRILL AND COMMODORE STOCKTON. A TEST OF NORTH- 
ERN COURAGE. 

THE Northern delegates so conducted themselves as to 
secure the respect of the gentlemen from the South, and 
were careful to avoid contact with the rougher classes. 
In the good-natured discussions, which sometimes oc- 
curred, of the relative fighting qualities of the represen- 
tatives of the two sections, the Northerners generally 
admitted (at all events they did not deny) that they were 
not fighting men, and held with Falstaff that discretion 
was the better part of valor. An incident occurred in 
the Conference, however, which may be worth relating, 
for it produced an impression that some Northern men, 
notwithstanding their protestations, were not altogether 
destitute of personal courage. 

Two days after the peaceable election of Mr. Lincoln 
had been proclaimed, and before the heated brains of 
many Southern visitors to the capital were reduced to 
their normal temperature, the Committee on [Resolutions 
made a majority and minority report to the Conference. 
That of the minority may be dismissed as unimportant ; 
that of the majority recommended amendments to the 
Federal Constitution, which should assert the right of 
the owner to transport his slave through any state or 
territory and into any state or territory south of lati- 
tude 36 30' ; the admission of new states north or south 
of that parallel with or without slavery, as the people of 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 51 

the new state might determine ; that slavery in the Dis- 
trict of Columbia should not be abolished without the 
consent of Maryland ; and that, when these amendments 
were adopted, they, with certain other articles of the 
Constitution, should not be changed without the consent 
of all the states. 

These propositions were not prolix, but they were a 
comprehensive abandonment of the vital principles upon 
which the people had just passed final, decisive judgment 
in the election of Mr. Lincoln. It may appear incredi- 
ble, after the lapse of time, but it is the fact that many 
delegates from the free states four out of the nine from 
the state, and one of them from the city of New York 
were ready and voted to accept these drastic measures, 
solely to avoid a civil war, without any pledge that one 
of the six states which had then seceded would return to 
the Union. While the majority of the Committee claimed 
that their report presented fair terms of compromise, 
which all the states ought to accept as conditions of per- 
petual union, Mr. Seddon, of Virginia, objected to them, 
because they did not contain sufficient guarantees; in 
fact, because they did not render the humiliation of the 
free states sufficiently abject. 

The general debate was opened by Mr. Seddon. He 
was the most conspicuous and active member of his dele- 
gation, which comprised several distinguished men. His 
personal appearance was extraordinary. His frame was 
fleshless as that of John Eandolph, and he was equally 
with that statesman intense in his hatred of all forms of 
Northern life from the statesman of New England to 
the sheep that fed upon her hillsides. The pallor of his 
face, his narrow chest, sunken eyes, and attenuated frame 
indicated the last stages of consumption. His voice, 
husky at first, cleared with the excitement of debate, in 



LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 
AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN 



52 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

which he became eloquent. Notwithstanding his spec- 
tral appearance, he survived to become Secretary of TVar 
in the Confederacy. He was the most powerful debater 
of the Conference, skilful, adroit, cunning, the soul of 
the plot which the Conference was intended to execute. 
His speech was an arraignment of the free states for 
offences of which they were not guilty, a picture of the 
moral beauties of the domestic institution, an attempted 
demonstration of the equity of the demands of Virginia. 
He had no word of condemnation for secession, of hope 
for the return of South Carolina and the five other states 
which by that time had seceded. He struck the key-note 
of the debate for slavery, and many Southern speeches 
followed in the same key. Instead of arguing in favor 
of the report of the majority, the position of the speak- 
ers appeared to be opposition to any compromise which 
did not involve the complete humiliation of the North. 

The effective answer to the speech of Mr. Seddon from 
a Northern Kepublican came from Maine, a state repre- 
sented in the Conference by her Congressional delega- 
tion. It was made by Lot M. Morrill, one of her sena- 
tors. His age was about sixty years, his figure rather 
slight, his manner retiring, and his general appearance 
somewhat effeminate. There was not a trace of the 
bully in his composition, not the slightest suspicion of 
aggressiveness in his character. On the contrary, he 
would have been selected as almost the last man in the 
Conference to become involved in a personal controversy 
as one naturally disposed to concession, who would 
yield much for the sake of peace. He was never an abo- 
litionist of the extreme type, but he was an early free- 
soiler, and a good representative of his state in her 
steadfast opposition to the extension of the territory 
or the political influence of slavery. His quiet, peaceful 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 53 

nature was deceptive to strangers ; for at the bottom lay 
a stratum of resolution which would have carried him to 
the stake before he would surrender a natural right or 
abandon an important principle. His ideas were clear 
and decided. He possessed great facility in expression 
and a command of language which qualified him for the 
discussion of great questions with a power and force sel- 
dom excelled in any legislative body. 

Commodore Stockton was one of the delegates from 
New Jersey. Imperious and overbearing by nature, his 
long service in the navy had accustomed him to com- 
mand, and rendered him intolerant of opposition, or any 
contradiction of the opinions which he entertained. His 
age must have been above seventy years ; he stood six 
feet high. His physique was powerful and his manner 
authoritative. He was a Northern man with Southern 
principles. He had a lofty admiration for the Southern 
character, and entertained pro-slavery views of a more 
pronounced type than those of the delegates from the 
Border slave-states. He would have been selected as the 
most fiery, Senator Morrill as the least combative, mem- 
ber of the Conference. 

Although the Kepublicans had abandoned all expecta- 
tion of any beneficial results from the Conference, and 
were not very attentive to the debate, Senator Morrill 
had not been many minutes on his feet before he had a 
large body of interested auditors. His voice, at first low 
and quiet, gathered volume as he proceeded, until, as he 
approached the real points in controversy, his lucid argu- 
ments cut like a Damascus blade. 

" You tell us," he said, " that our multiplied offences 
are more than you can endure ; that our unfriendly criti- 
cisms of slavery, our obstructions to the surrender of the 
fugitive slaves, our opposition to the admission of Kan- 



54 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

sas with a constitution which tolerates slavery, justify 
extreme measures on your part; that, although some 
have left the Union, the states here represented will con- 
done our offences by one more compromise. But only 
upon one condition: that we consent to write it into the 
fundamental law that slavery is to be perpetual in the 
republic, and that any territory with sufficient popula- 
tion, wherever situated, shall, if its people so vote, come 
into the Union as a slave state, and its status once fixed, 
shall be forever unchangeable. 

" I shall not now debate the issues of the past ; I look 
to the future. I agree with you that the time has come 
to settle for all future 'time the grave questions which 
have disturbed our peace. You say that there is but one 
way to settle them. That the North must accept what 
you term another compromise, or the Union must perish. 

" We have made compromises before, not one of which 
was ever broken by the North, by every one of which 
the South ultimately refused to abide. You proposed 
the Missouri Compromise. You solemnly agreed that 
all the states north of 36 30' should be free. How you 
kept the faith let Kansas answer ! You demanded the 
Fugitive Slave Act as a condition of preserving the 
Union. Your demand was conceded, and your slaves 
have been returned to you by Northern hands from under 
the shadow of Bunker Hill. Now you demand another 
compromise which changes a free republic into slave 
territory. You say the North must make the conces- 
sion as the price of union. Must is a word which does 
not promote a settlement founded upon compromise. If 
we must, what then ? There is in your propositions of 
amendment no pledge, no promise on the part of the 
South. What does the South propose to do? If we 
assent to the terms, will South Carolina will the Gulf 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 55 

states return to the Union? Or will the South repeat 
her history? do as she has always done before? perform 
her agreement as long as it will serve her interests, and 
then violate " 

" Silence, sir !" shouted a voice from a gigantic form, 
which rushed towards Senator Morrill with violent and 
angry gesticulations. " We will not permit our South- 
ern friends to be charged with bad faith, and with vio- 
lating an agreement ! No black Kepublican shall " 

The sentence was never completed. In a moment, by 
a common impulse, twenty or thirty ^Republicans were 
on the floor, and had surrounded Senator Morrill like a 
living wall. " Back to your seat, you bully !" exclaimed 
a stalwart Vermonter, the equal of Commodore Stockton 
in size and his superior in strength and activity. The 
Southerners rushed to the assistance of their volunteer 
defender. They could not check the impetus of his com- 
pulsory retreat, until he was forced into his seat. For an 
instant many believed an armed encounter was unavoid- 
able. It was prevented by the prompt intervention of 
President Tyler. 

" Order !" he shouted. " Shame upon the delegate 
who would dishonor this Conference by violence !" His 
command was obeyed ; the danger passed as suddenly as 
it had arisen. 

None of the actors in this scene were proud of their 
participation. Still, its influence was excellent. It would 
have surprised no one if a gentleman of Senator Merrill's 
delicate organization had exhibited some excitement or 
discomposure under such an aggressive attack, supported 
by an angry crowd which was restrained from bloodshed 
only by the effective interference of one of their num- 
ber. But the senator's face was not flushed, nor his cir- 
culation apparently quickened by so much as one pulsa- 



56 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

tion. Without a tremor in his voice, as soon as order 
was restored, he continued : 

" As I was inquiring, Mr. President, is it the purpose 
of the representatives of the slave-power to force this 
compromise upon us, and then to violate it, as they have 
violated all former compromises ? You are wasting your 
time, gentlemen. Until some one, having authority, will 
pledge the South, including the seceded states, to accept 
your proposed amendments as a finality, and henceforth 
to abide in the Union, the North will never consider the 
subject of their acceptance ! Never! Never!" 

Yery soon afterwards, possibly on the following even- 
ing, in a mixed company of moderate Northern and 
Southern men, this occurrence was adverted to. An able 
and courteous Kentuckian, addressing an ex-governor of 
a New England state, widely known and loved as one of 
the purest and most amiable of men, observed : 

"I do not understand why you New-Englanders so 
persistently repudiate the possession of personal cour- 
age. "We know in Kentucky that our citizens of New 
England origin are destitute of fear. Senator Morrill 
showed to-day that he had courage enough and to spare. 
The men that hurried to his support were New England 
men. Are you quite ingenuous ? Is this a time to incul- 
cate a false estimate of Northern character? I prefer 
that the South should understand what I know, that, in 
the quality of personal courage, Northern men have no 
superiors, certainly not in the South. Had the South 
been more accurately informed on the subject, we should 
not have drifted so near to revolution !" 

" I think you misjudge us," replied Governor H . 

" Northern men do not know whether they are men of 
courage or not. How is one to know whether or not he 
is a coward until he is put to the test ? The masses of 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 57 

Northern men go through life without any experience on 
this subject. You would not have us assume a virtue 
which we are not certain of possessing ?" 

"I would have both sections form just estimates of 
the character and qualities of each," said the Ken- 
tuckian. " I do not regret the occurrence in the Confer- 
ence. I am quite certain that it will lead to a better 
judgment among our people of the Northern men." 

This conversation took place many years ago. I have 
never since heard from an intelligent Southerner any ex- 
pression of doubt as to the courage of Northern men. 
In the first year of the war, such rabid sheets as the 
Baltimore Sun and the Charleston Mercury were accus- 
tomed to use vile names, and to declare that a "flunkey," 
a " servile follower," was a local, an unadulterated Yan- 
kee product; but the experiences of the first twelve 
months of rebellion relegated such expressions to the era 
of many other Southern errors. 



X. 

THE CONSPIRACY OF ASSASSINATION. ITS DETAILS. MR. LIN- 
COLN CONSENTS TO FOLLOW THE ADVICE OF HIS FRIENDS. 

THE 4th of March was approaching. Burners of in- 
tended revolution multiplied ; evidences of a design to 
seize Washington augmented daily, attended by dark 
hints of some event which would paralyze the North and 
enable the Secessionists to secure the Capitol without 
loss of life. Gurowski openly said to the Republicans, 
" Lincoln is to be assassinated I know it. I tell you of 
it in time for you to prevent it. I know that wagers at 
heavy odds have been laid that he will never reach 
Washington alive. Yet you do not believe what I tell 
you ! It is not even an independent plot ; it is part of 
the conspiracy of secession." 

A small number of younger Republicans, then tem- 
porarily in Washington, had undertaken to act as an in- 
dependent committee of safety. They were in active 
communication by wire with the principal Northern 
cities. The investigation and exposure of rumors was a 
part of their work. 

On the afternoon of Sunday, February 17th, when we 
knew that the President-elect was in Buffalo, a mes- 
senger, duly authenticated, from reliable friends in Bal- 
timore, came to Washington to tell us that they wished 
to have two or three members of our organization re- 
turn with the messenger to that city. Their purpose 
in inviting us, the latter stated, would be explained on 
our arrival. It was too important to be trusted to the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 59 

mails or the telegraph, or even to be put upon paper. 
He himself did not know what it was. He was directed 
to say to us that our coming over that evening was 
necessary to enable the Kepublican party of Baltimore 
to sustain itself, and to be of any service in the coming 
emergency. 

It was arranged that, with a single companion, I 
should take a late train that evening which made a stop 
at the Relay House, a few miles out of Baltimore. My 
associate was a contractor, accustomed to deal with large 
bodies of foreigners. I was an acquaintance and friend 
of the Republican who sent the invitation, but my com- 
panion and myself were alike strangers in Baltimore. 
We took the train as arranged. It was boarded at the 
Relay House by my Baltimore friend, who stared me in 
the face, and then passed me without apparent recog- 
nition. A few minutes after the train started, a stranger 
half stumbled along the aisle of the dimly lighted car, 
partially fell over me, but grasped my hand as he re- 
covered himself and apologized for his awkwardness. 
I felt that he left a paper in my hand. I went into 
the dressing-room to read it. It contained these words : 
"Be cautious. At the station follow a driver who 
will be shouting ' Hotel Fountain,' instead of ' Fountain 
Hotel.' Enter his carriage. He is reliable and has his 
directions." 

I destroyed the paper. "We followed its directions, 
and were driven where, I never knew. It was, however, 
to a private residence. A gentleman waiting outside 
showed us into the house, and the driver hurried away. 
Our friend of the train came soon after, and we were 
taken to an upper room where were half a dozen Repub- 
licans, to whom we were presented. No time was 
wasted. Mr. H , well known to me as a true Re- 



60 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

publican, said: "We want you to help us save Balti- 
more from disgrace, and President Lincoln from assassi- 
nation. We find our work difficult. We are watched 
and shadowed so that we cannot leave the city without 
exciting suspicion. We have sent messengers to leading 
Kepublicans in Washington, notifying them of the plot 
against the President's life ; but they will not credit the 
story, nor, so far as we can learn, take any action. We 
also learn that Mr. Lincoln declares that he will pursue 
his journey openly, if he loses his life in consequence. 
Within ten minutes after the presidential train reaches 
the Canton station it will be surrounded by a mob of 
twenty thousand roughs and plug-uglies, from which he 
will never escape alive. We have every detail of the 
plot ; we know the men who have been hired to kill him ; 
we could lay our hands upon them to-night. But what 
are we to do if our friends will not believe our report ?" 

" You call the plot a certainty. What proof have 
you ? Direct proof, I mean ?" 

"We will show you some of it. The sporting men 
gave it away by betting at odds that Mr. Lincoln would 
never reach Washington. Kecently they have modified 
it by betting that he will not pass through Maryland 
alive. Then a woman about to be abandoned by her 
lover betrayed him to us he had no scruples, and 
promptly sold his associates in the plot." 

"You cannot condemn reputable men upon such evi- 
dence. He is an accomplice !" 

" You should hear his story and its confirmations be- 
fore you say that. Bring in the fellow !" he said to one 
of the company. 

Two men entered the room with the supposed as- 
sassin. He looked the character. He represented a 
genus of the human family seen in pictures of Italian 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 61 

bandits. His square, bull-dog jaws, ferret-like eyes, 
furtively looking out from holes under a low brow, cov- 
ered with a coarse mat of black hair ; a dark face, every 
line of which was hard, and an impudent swagger in his 
carriage, sufficiently advertised him as a low, cowardly 
villain. I shall not attempt to imitate his dialect, or the 
shameless unconcern with which he described his bar- 
gain to murder and his betrayal of his associates. 

" A bad president," he said, " was coming in the cars 
to free the negroes and drive all the foreigners out of 
the country. The good Americans wanted him killed. 
They had employed Ruscelli to do the job ; Kuscelli was 
a barber who called himself Orsini since he escaped from 
Italy, where he was in trouble for killing some men 
who failed to pay their ransom. There were five who 
were to put the president out of life, who were to have 
each a hundred dollars, besides twenty dollars paid 
when they made the promise. They were to follow 
Euscelli into the car. Each was to strike the president 
with a knife, to make sure. Then they were to go quick 
away to sea. Yes, the two gold eagles which Mr. 
H had were a part of his pay." 

There were more details of the fellow's story. He 
and his associates were the mere tools. Their employ- 
ers were known they were secessionists, pot-house 
politicians of a low order, with some admixture of men 
of a better class, some of them in the police. Our 
friends had an agent who had joined the conspiracy and 
attended all the meetings. Through him they had 
learned that the murder had been several times in part 
rehearsed to avoid mistakes. 

At that time the cars were drawn through the city by 
horses. At the end of a certain bridge the track was 
to be suddenly torn up. When the President's car was 



62 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

stopped at the obstruction the assassins were to follow 
their leader into the rear of the car, pass rapidly through 
it, each knifing the president, out at the forward door, 
through the crowd to a rum shop, at the rear of which 
lay a schooner, with a tug under steam, which would 
immediately go down the bay with the schooner in tow. 
Clearance papers would be provided for the port of Mo- 
bile, to which the schooner would as speedily as possible 
make her way. If he left the cars for a carriage, its 
progress was to be blocked, and the President killed at 
the same crossing. The whole work, it was found, from 
arresting the car to the departure of the schooner, could 
be done in five or six minutes. To add to the confu- 
sion, bombs and hand-grenades, which exploded by con- 
cussion, were to be thrown into the cars through the 
windows. 

The seven or eight gentlemen present were reliable 
citizens of Baltimore. They had not believed at first 
that the conspiracy comprised any but members of the 
criminal class. Now they were satisfied that there were 
leading Secessionists privy to the plot ; some of them in- 
fluential politicians and citizens who had argued them- 
selves into the belief that this was a patriotic work 
which would prevent greater bloodshed and possible 
war. They provided the money which had been used 
with a free hand in purchasing the schooner and taking 
measures to avoid detection. The disappearance of the 
hired ruffian and the woman through whom the plot was 
first discovered had made the conspirators watchful, and 
some of them had not only withdrawn from the plot, 
but had left the city. The others held nightly meetings, 
and had no intention of giving up the project. Our 
friends were now at a standstill, because Mr. Lincoln 
persisted in passing through the city openly, on the day 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 63 

appointed, and the leading Kepublicans of "Washington 
would not accept the evidences of the conspiracy. 

" Why,'' we asked, " do not the Kepublicans of Balti- 
more arm, organize, and themselves protect the Presi- 
dent in his journey through the city ?" 

" Because," they replied, " the police, from superinten- 
dent to patrolmen, would oppose us and protect the con- 
spirators. The Plug-Uglies of Baltimore number thou- 
sands, and have been notorious for years as the worst 
fighting roughs in existence. If Mr. Lincoln's train 
reaches the Canton station, it will, within five minutes, 
be surrounded by a crowd of rowdies. If he takes a 
carriage, the crowd will block it, and have ample time 
to tear him to pieces. If driven to the car, as they in- 
tend he shall be, he cannot pass the bridge. What 
can we do, with the police, the roughs, and the Seces- 
sionists against us ? It would require disciplined regi- 
ments to control them. They will surround the car or 
the carriage, they will swoop down upon it like vultures, 
or swarm over it like monkeys. No, we have done all 
that men can do; we have the names of the conspira- 
tors ; we have agents who attend their meetings, who 
contribute to their expenses. We know that they are 
not all hired assassins. There are men among them who 
believe they are serving their country. One of them is 
an actor who recites passages from the tragedy of Julius 
Caesar in their conclaves. They are abundantly supplied 
with money. Where does it come from, if not from 
men of substance? No, gentlemen, we have done every- 
thing in our power ! If the government itself will not 
interfere, and if, as he declares he will, Mr. Lincoln in- 
sists on passing through Baltimore in open day, on the 
train appointed, his murder is inevitable. We have in- 
vited you here that you might convince yourselves, and 



64 RECOLLECTIONS OK PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

to ask you to help us to convince others. Have we 
satisfied you ?" 

" I am satisfied," said my companion, " and I believe 
I can satisfy General Scott. But I should like first to 
wring the neck of that miscreant in the other room, and 
carry his head to Washington as a voucher of the plot !" 

The consultation was prolonged until it was time for 
an early morning train to Washington. In the gray of 
the morning we drove to the house of Elihu B. Wash- 
burn, called him from his bed, and in a few words 
summed up our night's experience, with the statement 
that we had come for his assistance in precautionary 
measures. 

He said that we might put aside our anxiety ; that he 
knew positively that Mr. Lincoln had determined to fol- 
low the advice of his friends, and would reach Wash- 
ington without risk. It was deemed wise that none but 
those who had charge of the President's journey should 
know by what route or at what time he would pass 
through Baltimore, but that he himself, Mr. Seward, 
and General Scott had become satisfied that precautions 
must be taken to protect his life, and they would be 
effectual. 



XI. 

HOW DID MR. LINCOLN "GET THROUGH BALTIMORE"? 

THE story of Mr. Lincoln's journey through Baltimore, 
as recorded in history, requires some correction. Like 
other sufferers by the hat of the period, he was pro- 
vided with a knitted woollen cap for use in the cars, 
particularly at night. This he wore on his night-trip to 
Washington. The myth of the disguise and the Scotch 
cap had " this extent, no more." There was no neces- 
sity for disguise. Mr. Lincoln entered the sleeping-car 
at Philadelphia, and slept until awakened within a few 
miles of Washington. 

The street-lights were not yet extinguished on the 
early morning of the 23d of February, when Elihu B. 
Washburn and Senator Seward stepped from a carriage 
at the ladies' entrance of Willard's Hotel. A tall man, 
with a striking face, followed them into the hall, the 
swinging doors closed, and the future president and pre- 
server of the republic was safely housed in its capital. 
The pledge of Mr. Washburn had been kept, and Eepub- 
licans could lay aside their anxiety. 

There were a few Republicans whose faces shone as 
they greeted each other, when they met at the opening 
of the Conference that day. They were in the secret of 
Mr. Lincoln's arrival. Members were not particular 
about the position of their seats, and mine then hap- 
pened to be between one occupied by Mr. Seddon and 
that of Waldo P. Johnson, an impulsive Secessionist, 
afterwards a Confederate general, who then, in part, 



66 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

represented Missouri. The body-servant of whom Mr. 
Seddon was then proprietor was a man scarcely darker 
than himself, his equal in deportment, his superior in 
figure and carriage. This chattel had made himself a 
favorite by his civil and respectful manner, and by gen- 
eral consent was the only person, not a member or offi- 
cer, who had the entree to the sessions of the Conference. 

As soon as the meeting was called to order, this ser- 
vant approached his master and handed him a scrap of 
paper, apparently torn from an envelope. Mr. Seddon 
glanced at it, and passed it before me to Mr. Johnson, 
so near to my face that, without closing my eyes, I could 
not avoid reading it. The words written upon it were, 
" Lincoln is in this hotel !" 

The Missourian was startled as by a shock of electric- 
ity. He must have forgotten himself completely, for he 
instantly exclaimed, " How the devil did he get through 
Baltimore?" With a look of utter contempt for the 
indiscretion of the impulsive trans - Mississippian, the 
Virginian growled, " What would prevent his passing 
through Baltimore ?" 

There was no reply, but the occurrence left the im- 
pression on one mind that the preparations to receive 
Mr. Lincoln in Baltimore were known to some who were 
neither Italian assassins nor Baltimore Plug-Uglies. Mr. 
Johnson was not the only delegate surprised by the an- 
nouncement of Mr. Lincoln's presence in Washington. 
As the news circulated in whispers through the hall, 
members gathered in groups to discuss it, and were too 
much absorbed to hear the repeated calls of the chair- 
man to order. No event of the Conference, not even 
the collision between Commodore Stockton and Senator 
Morrill, produced so much excitement. The member 
who was addressing the chair, after repeated attempts 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 67 

to make himself heard above the din of voices, gave up 
the effort and resumed his seat. It was not until some 
one had moved an adjournment that the burden of prep- 
aration weighing upon so many members, and the danger 
of losing the opportunity of delivering their speeches, 
combined to restore order and enable the Conference to 
resume its business. 

But the attempt to go on with the debate was una- 
vailing. The fact of the arrival of the President-elect 
was quickly known to every one. Members were not 
in a condition of mind to make speeches or to listen to 
them. There was a hurried consultation among the 
Kepublicans, which resulted in a motion by Mr. Logan, 
one of the delegates from Mr. Lincoln's state, that the 
president of the Conference wait upon the President- 
elect and inform him that the Conference would be 
pleased to visit him in a body at such a time as would 
suit his convenience. This motion was fiercely opposed. 
Waste of precious time was the open ground of opposi- 
tion. There were cries of " No ! no ! Yote it down !" 
" Lay it on the table !" with exclamations, in an under- 
tone, of " Kail-splitter !" " Ignoramus !" " Vulgar clown!" 
etc. Again President Tyler interfered to prevent the 
making of a disreputable record. He declared that " the 
proposal was eminently proper ; that the office, and not 
the individual, was to be considered ; that he hoped that 
no Southern member would decline to treat the incom- 
ing President with the same respect and attention already 
extended to the present incumbent of that honorable and 
exalted office." These appropriate observations sup- 
pressed the opposition; the motion of Mr. Logan was 
unanimously adopted, and the Conference, having re- 
solved upon an evening session, adjourned. 



XII. 

A SECOND PRESIDENTIAL RECEPTION. MR. LINCOLN CONVERSES 
WITH LEADING SOUTHERNERS. HIS DUTY TO THE CONSTI- 
TUTION. 

THE Republican members of the Conference were not 
pleased with the manner in which the chairman per- 
formed his duty. Instead of waiting upon the President- 
elect in person, as directed by the vote, he announced at 
the evening session that he had addressed him a note of 
inquiry, in reply to which Mr. Lincoln said that he would 
be happy to receive the members at nine o'clock that 
evening, or at such other time as might suit their con- 
venience. As Mr. Lincoln had taken no exception to 
the manner of the invitation, and as President Tyler 
could have pleaded the communication to Mr. Buchanan 
as a precedent, they decided to raise no question about 
what was, after all, but a mere matter of form. 

I thought it might prove of advantage to Mr. Lincoln 
to have some information in advance of the men who 
would meet him that evening. I therefore called upon 
him, with the intention of informing him who would 
visit him out of respect, and who would come out of cu- 
riosity, or only to jeer and ridicule. This, my first meet- 
ing with him, was an event which would have been more 
impressive had I then appreciated that he was the great- 
est of Americans, whose life-labors would restore the 
broken Union, and whose death would cement the foun- 
dations of the republic. 

As I entered his apartment, a tall, stooping figure, 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 69 

upon which his clothing hung loosely and ungracefully, 
advanced to meet me. His kindly eyes looked out from 
under a cavernous, projecting brow, with a curiously 
mingled expression of sadness and humor. His limbs 
were long, and at first sight ungainly. But in the cor- 
dial grasp of his large hands, the cheery tones of his 
pleasant voice, the heartiness of his welcome, in the air 
and presence of the great-hearted man, there was an as- 
cendency which caused me to forget my errand, and to 
comprehend why it was that Abraham Lincoln won 
from all classes and conditions of men a love that 
" was wonderful, passing the love of women." " He was 
pleased," he said, "to have an opportunity of meeting 
so many representative men from different sections of 
the Union ; the more unjust they were in their opinions 
of himself, the more he desired to make their acquaint- 
ance. He had been represented as an evil spirit, a gob- 
lin, the implacable enemy of Southern men and women. 
He did not set up for a beauty, but he was confident that, 
upon a close acquaintance, they would not find him so 
ugly nor so black as he had been painted. He hoped 
every delegate from the slave states would be present, 
especially those most prejudiced against himself. He 
mentioned one or two whom he had known in Congress ; 
also Mr. Rives and Judge Ruffin, as influential states- 
men whom he particularly wished to know. I left him, 
having said nothing I had intended to, with a conviction 
that he would require no guardian. From that first 
visit to the time when my more matured judgment and 
intimate knowledge of the noble qualities of his mind 
and heart led me to account him the greatest of Ameri- 
cans, he never ceased to grow in my esteem. 

The hour of nine arrived ; the Conference adjourned, 
so that those who wished might attend Mr. Lincoln's 



70 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

reception. Not, as when we called on President Bu- 
chanan, were we formed in procession and marshalled 
on our way, preceded by our presiding officer ; but in 
straggling groups we made our way as best we might 
to the drawing-room, in which the President-elect was 
to be placed on exhibition, before what was, in the main, 
a most unfriendly audience. No delegate from a slave 
state had voted for him ; many entertained for him sen- 
timents of positive hatred. I heard him discussed as a 
curiosity by men as they would have spoken of a clown 
with whose ignorant vulgarity they were to be amused. 
They took him for an unlettered boor, with no fixed 
principles, whose nomination was an accident, and his 
election the victory of the ultra anti-slavery faction. A 
small number of more conservative men from the slave, 
and very nearly a majority of the delegates from the 
free states, were inclined to respect his office, but regard- 
ed its prospective incumbent as an extremist, with no 
qualification for its duties. Some queried whether, like 
old John Brown, he actually longed for an insurrection 
of the slaves. Even the small minority of his political 
supporters, who had resolved in their hearts that he 
should be inaugurated, though stanch in his defence, 
had not discovered his intellectual strength, and sus- 
pected few of his sterling qualities. 

An experienced politician would have prepared him- 
self for such an occasion. In fact, his friends antici- 
pated that Mr. Lincoln would conduct himself with ex- 
treme reserve, and use great caution in the expression 
of his opinions. 

Mr. Lincoln had not made the slightest preparation. 
He stood in the corner of one of the public drawing- 
rooms of the hotel alone, unattended. Mr. Lamon, who 
had accompanied him from his home, and who it was 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 71 

understood he would appoint marshal of the district, 
was not present until a later hour. No one had been 
provided to introduce the delegates or give any direction 
to the proceedings. I observed the omission as I en- 
tered the room, and, there being no time to stand upon 
ceremony, took a position, as if by arrangement, at Mr. 
Lincoln's side, and presented each member of the Con- 
ference by name. Their number was as large as that 
present at President Buchanan's reception. A general 
curiosity prevailed to witness the manner in which the 
incoming President would conduct himself, and many 
wished, by a closer observation of his appearance and 
awkwardness, to nourish their contempt for the " rail- 
splitter." Many " who came to scoff " did not find the 
entertainment to their liking, if they did not " remain to 
pray." 

An experienced public man, who had travelled con- 
stantly for ten consecutive days, making from one to 
four addresses daily, who had just escaped a conspiracy 
against his life, might have pleaded some excuse if, with- 
in fifteen hours after his arrival, in his first public ap- 
pearance, and before a contemptuously inimical audi- 
ence, he had failed to seem entirely at his ease. But it 
was soon discovered that the friends of Mr. Lincoln 
might dismiss whatever anxiety they might have felt on 
his account. He was able to take care of himself. The 
manner in which he adjusted his conversation to repre- 
sentatives of different sections and opinions was striking. 
He could not have appeared more natural or unstudied 
in his manner if he had been entertaining a company of 
neighbors in his Western home. 

Mr. Lincoln's reception of the delegates was of an en- 
tirely informal character. There was no crowded ap- 
proach, nor hurried disappearance ; no procession of the 



72 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

members beyond where he stood. There was a point of 
attraction not of repulsion. As the guests were suc- 
cessively and cordially received, they gathered round him 
in a circle, which enlarged and widened, until it com- 
prised most of the delegates. His tall figure and ani- 
mated face towered above them, the most striking in a 
group of noted Americans. His words arrested the at- 
tention ; his wonderful vivacity surprised every specta- 
tor. He spoke apparently without premeditation, with 
a singular ease of manner and facility of expression. He 
had some apt observation for each person ready the mo- 
ment he heard his name. " You are a smaller man than 
I supposed I mean in person : every one is acquainted 
with the greatness of your intellect. It is, indeed, pleas- 
ant to meet one who has so honorably represented his 
country in Congress and abroad." Such was his greet- 
ing to William C. Rives, of Virginia, a most cultivated 
and polished gentleman. " Your name is all the endorse- 
ment you require," he said to James B. Clay. " From 
my boyhood the name of Henry Clay has been an inspi- 
ration to me." "You cannot be a disunionist, unless 
your nature has changed since we met in Congress !" he 
exclaimed as he recognized the strong face of Geo. W. 
Summers, of Western Virginia. " Does liberty still thrive 
in the mountains of Tennessee ?" he inquired as Mr. Zol- 
licoffer's figure, almost as tall as his own, came into view. 
After so many years, much that he said is forgotten, but 
it is remembered that he had for every delegation, almost 
for every man, some appropriate remark, which was forci- 
ble, and apparently unstudied. 

There was only one occurrence which threatened to 
disturb the harmony and good humor of the reception. 
In reply to a complimentary remark by Mr. Lincoln, Mr. 
Rives had said that, although he had retired from public 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 73 

life, he could not decline the request of the Governor of 
Virginia that he should unite in this effort to save the 
Union. " But," he continued, " the clouds that hang over 
it are very dark. I have no longer the courage of my 
younger days. I can do little you can do much. Every- 
thing now depends upon you." 

" I cannot agree to that," replied Mr. Lincoln. " My 
course is as plain as a turnpike road. It is marked out 
by the Constitution. I am in no doubt which way to go. 
Suppose now we all stop discussing and try the experi- 
ment of obedience to the Constitution and the laws. 
Don't you think it would work ?" 

"Permit me to answer that suggestion," interposed 
Mr. Summers. " Yes, it will work. If the Constitution 
is your light, I will follow it with you, and the people of 
the South will go with us." 

" It is not of your professions we complain," sharply 
struck in Mr. Seddon's sepulchral voice. " It is of your 
sins of omission of your failure to enforce the laws 
to suppress your John Browns and your Garrisons, 
who preach insurrection and make war upon our prop- 
erty !" 

" I believe John Brown was hung and Mr. Garrison 
imprisoned," dryly remarked Mr. Lincoln. " You cannot 
justly charge the North with disobedience to statutes or 
with failing to enforce them. You have made some 
which were very offensive, but they have been enforced, 
notwithstanding." 

" You do not enforce the laws," persisted Mr. Seddon. 
" You refuse to execute the statute for the return of 
fugitive slaves. Your leading men openly declare that 
they will not assist the marshals to capture or return 
slaves." 

" You are wrong in your facts again," said Mr. Lin- 



74: RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

coin. " Your slaves have been returned, yes, from the 
shadow of Faneuil Hall in the heart of Boston. Our 
people do not like the work, I know. They will do what 
the law commands, but they will not volunteer to act as 
tip-staves or bum-bailiffs. The instinct is natural to the 
race. Is it not true of the South ? Would you join in 
the pursuit of a fugitive slave if you could avoid it ? Is 
such the work of gentlemen ?" 

" Your press is incendiary !" said Mr. Seddon, chang- 
ing his base. " It advocates servile insurrection, and ad- 
vises our slaves to cut their masters' throats. You do 
not suppress your newspapers. You encourage their 
violence." 

" I beg your pardon, Mr. Seddon," replied Mr. Lincoln. 
" I intend no offence, but I will not suffer such a state- 
ment to pass unchallenged, because it is not true. No 
Northern newspaper, not the most ultra, has advocated 
a slave insurrection or advised the slaves to cut their 
masters' throats. A gentleman of your intelligence 
should not make such assertions. We do maintain the 
freedom of the press we deem it necessary to a free 
government. Are we peculiar in that respect ? Is not 
the same doctrine held in the South ?" 

It was reserved for the delegation from New York to 
call out from Mr. Lincoln his first expression touching 
the great controversy of the hour. He exchanged re- 
marks with ex-Governor King, Judge James, William 
Curtis Noyes, and Francis Granger. William E. Dodge 
had stood, awaiting his turn. As soon as his opportunity 
came, he raised his voice enough to be heard by all 
present, and, addressing Mr. Lincoln, declared that the 
whole country in great anxiety was awaiting his inaugu- 
ral address, and then added : " It is for you, sir, to say 
whether the whole nation shall be plunged into bank- 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 75 

ruptcy; whether the grass shall grow in the streets of 
our commercial cities." 

" Then I say it shall not," he answered, with a merry 
twinkle of his eye. "If it depends upon me, the grass 
will not grow anywhere except in the fields and the 
meadows." 

" Then you will yield to the just demands of the South. 
You will leave her to control her own institutions. You 
will admit slave states into the Union on the same con- 
ditions as free states. You will not go to war on account 
of slavery !" 

A sad but stern expression swept over Mr. Lincoln's 
face. " I do not know that I understand your meaning, 
Mr. Dodge," he said, without raising his voice, " nor do 
I know what my acts or my opinions may be in the 
future, beyond this. If I shall ever come to the great 
office of President of the United States, I shall take an 
oath. I shall swear that I will faithfully execute the 
office of President of the United States, of all the United 
States, and that I will, to the best of my ability, preserve, 
protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. 
This is a great and solemn duty. With the support of 
the people and the assistance of the Almighty I shall 
undertake to perform it. I have full faith that I shall 
perform it. It is not the Constitution as I would like to 
have it, but as it is, that is to be defended. The Consti- 
tution will not be preserved and defended until it is en- 
forced and obeyed in every part of every one of the 
United States. It must be so respected, obeyed, en- 
forced, and defended, let the grass grow where it may." 

Not a word or a whisper broke the silence while these 
words of weighty import were slowly falling from his 
lips. They were so comprehensive and unstudied, they 
exhibited such inherent authority, that they seemed a 



76 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

statement of a sovereign decree, rather than one of fact 
which admitted of debate. Comment or criticism upon 
them seemed out of order. Mr. Dodge attempted no re- 
ply. The faces of the Republicans wore an expression 
of surprised satisfaction. Some of the more ardent South- 
erners silently left the room. They were unable to com- 
prehend the situation. The ignorant countryman they 
had come to ridicule threatened no crime but obedience 
to the Constitution. This was not the entertainment to 
which they were invited, and it was uninteresting. For 
the more conservative Southern delegates, the statesmen, 
Mr. Lincoln seemed to offer an attraction. They re- 
mained until he finally retired. 

A delegate from New Jersey asked Mr. Lincoln point- 
edly if the North should not make further concessions 
to avoid civil war? For example, consent that the peo- 
ple of a territory should determine its right to authorize 
slavery when admitted into the Union ? 

"It will be time to consider that question when it 
arises," he replied. "Now we have other questions 
which we must decide. In a choice of evils, war may 
not always be the worst. Still I would do all in my 
power to avert it, except to neglect a Constitutional 
duty. As to slaver}'', it must be content with what it 
has. The voice of the civilized world is against it ; it is 
opposed to its growth or extension. Freedom is the nat- 
ural condition of the human race, in which the Almighty 
intended men to live. Those who fight the purposes of 
the Almighty will not succeed. They always have been, 
they always will be, beaten." 

A general conversation followed, in which Judges 
Brockenbrough and Ruffin and Mr. Summers sought 
to draw from him some more definite expression of his 
views concerning the seceded states. "Without exhibit- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 77 

ing the slightest desire to conceal his opinions, he gave 
no further expression to them. His own duty, as defined 
by the Constitution, seemed to engross his mind. The 
Union must be maintained if the Constitution was to be 
enforced as the supreme law of the land. If he became 
President, all the executive powers of the government 
would be used to enforce obedience to the supreme law. 
Further than this, he had nothing to say. 

After the reception several of the delegates com- 
mented upon the remarks of the President-elect. Mr. 
Kives expressed the change in his own opinions concern- 
ing him with perfect candor. " He has been both mis- 
judged and misunderstood by the Southern people," he 
said. " They have looked upon him as an ignorant, self- 
willed man, incapable of independent judgment, full of 
prejudices, willing to be used as a tool by more able 
men. This is all wrong. He will be the head of his ad- 
ministration, and he will do his own thinking. He seems 
to have studied the Constitution, to have adopted it as 
his guide. I do not see that much fault can be found 
with the views he has expressed this evening. He is 
probably not so great a statesman as Mr. Madison, he 
may not have the will-power of General Jackson. He 
may combine the qualities of both. His will not be a 
weak administration." 

Judge Ruffin regarded his pronounced opinions against 
concessions as a misfortune. The controversy had been 
carried so far that great concessions must be made to 
avoid actual conflict. Still, he could not find much 
fault with Mr. Lincoln's opinions. They were evident- 
ly founded upon the Constitution. 

At the close of this interview Mr. Lincoln had not 
been twenty-four hours in "Washington. That he had 
created a profound impression, favorable to himself, was 



78 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

undeniable. The Republican members of the Confer- 
ence felt encouraged and strengthened by his presence. 
The sympathizers with secession were correspondingly 
discouraged and depressed. 



XIII. 

THE LAST WEEK OF PRESIDENT BUCHANAN'S ADMINISTRATION. 

THE forces which change the current of public opinion 
are often remote and difficult of discovery. One of the 
most unexpected of these changes, occurring within my 
experience, was synchronous with Mr. Lincoln's arrival 
in Washington. Before that day the growth of disunion 
had been vigorous. True, it had met with some checks, 
principally caused by the indiscretion of those who 
should have been, and in the future would be, excluded 
from the higher councils of the leaders. These checks 
had compelled the postponement of the seizure of the 
capital. General Dix, Judge Holt, and Mr. Stanton 
had been disturbing agencies in the cabinet, and General 
Scott had made trouble by his contemptuous refusal to 
listen to or temporize with secession. On the other 
hand, six states were already out of the Union ; others 
were ready to follow, a confederacy had been formed, 
its president and general officers elected ; successive del- 
egations had taken leave of Congress, declaring that the 
South could never be subjugated; military supplies, 
money, and other national property to a large value had 
been transferred from the North into the seceded states ; 
the national credit had been undermined. Newspapers 
and influential leaders in Northern cities had declared 
against the use of force to subjugate the South; the 
Peace Conference had performed its allotted service, 
secession in Maryland and Virginia was ripening, and 



80 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

Congress would soon adjourn, leaving a weakened gov- 
ernment without means of defence or resistance. On 
the whole the situation was satisfactory, the future prom- 
ising, and the capture of the government on the 4th of 
March assured. It could be accomplished without blood- 
shed, if General Scott and "his janizaries" would not 
interfere. The secessionists were confident, the friends 
of the Union verging towards despondency. 

A change in the situation came unexpectedly. It was 
coextensive with the political horizon, it was written 
upon the faces of the people of Washington and of the 
strangers within her gates. It began on the morning 
after Mr. Lincoln's arrival, and before evening it had 
pervaded the community. Ten regiments of veterans, 
coming to reinforce General Scott's handful of soldiers, 
could not have more effectually annihilated the plot for 
armed seizure of the capital on the morning of the day 
of inauguration. 

Nor was the arrival of Mr. Lincoln the only event 
which occurred to darken the prospects of the disunion- 
ists. They had counted upon the support of the North- 
ern Democrats, and of the conservative element in the 
Kepublican party. It was a common saying among 
them that no regiment for the subjugation of the South 
would be permitted to pass through the city of New 
York. But now, the example of General Cass, the ring- 
ing command of General Dix for the protection of the 
flag, Mr. Stanton's bold declaration to the President that 
the surrender of the forts and property in Charleston 
Harbor was an indictable crime, and the far-reaching, 
though more quiet, influence of that patriotic Kentuck- 
ian, Judge Holt, began to call back responsive echoes 
from the North and West. I cannot enumerate these, 
but I must not omit to mention one of the first and most 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 81 

powerful, the letter from that tried old Democrat, General 
Wool. These statements proclaimed a united North : 
Douglass Democrats, the numerical majority and all the 
best elements of Democracy, together with Republicans 
and men of no party, declared they would give short 
shrift and swift execution to any who should raise the 
hand of treason in the capital of the republic. 

It was also quickly known that Mr. Lincoln would 
call into his cabinet representative men like Senators 
Seward, Chase, and Cameron, who would unite the 
country if they did not constitute a united cabinet, and 
that he would offer one or two places to true men from 
the disloyal states. General Scott also was strengthen- 
ing his defences. Several volunteer companies of the 
most loyal young men in Washington had been organ- 
ized, and had received their guns and ammunition. They 
would be ready for service on a few moments' notice. 
Another type of American now became common in the 
streets of Washington. They were the young stalwart 
Republicans from all sections of the North and West 
who had been influential in the election of Mr. Lincoln, 
and who had come to give their personal attention to 
his inauguration. They became quite as numerous as 
the visitors with slouched hats from the Border states, 
and they had very promptly offered their services to 
General Scott to act as guards, as soldiers, or as police- 
men on the day of inauguration. 

Whether the joint operation of these events was the 
cause of the change, or whether the actual presence of 
the President-elect produced it in whole or in part, the 
fact of the change was beyond dispute. The precautions 
were not relaxed, but the extreme solicitude, which had 
previously influenced loyal men, had completely disap- 
peared. Instead of the excitement anticipated, the last 
6 



82 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

days of the Peace Conference were positively dull. The 
absence of David Dudley Field when the final vote 
was recorded, of which an unfair advantage was taken 
by some of his colleagues, and the decision of the pre- 
siding officer that the vote of New York should be con- 
trolled by the delegates present, and not cast as direct- 
ed by the resolution adopted by a clear majority of all 
the delegates from that state on the previous evening, 
neutralized the vote of New York, and led to the adop- 
tion of the amendments proposed by the majority of 
the Conference Committee on Resolutions by the slender, 
majority of one vote. Such a result carried no weight 
with Congress or the country. The proposed amend- 
ments were submitted to the Senate and to the House. 
But it was during the last hours of the session, and 
neither house would permit them to be brought before 
it for action. They were offered in the Senate by way 
of an amendment to the well-known Crittenden Res- 
olutions, and rejected by a vote of twenty -eight to 
seven. The Conference adjourned on the 27th of Feb- 
ruary, having served the purpose of its originators and 
done one good work for the country that of uniting 
the Republicans and many Democrats in the defence of 
the Union. 

From Monday, the 25th of February, to Monday, the 
4th of March, a kind of paralysis appeared to have fallen 
upon the disunionists. They did almost nothing to at- 
tract public attention. The usual arrangements with 
the outgoing administration were made for the inau- 
guration. The city was crowded with visitors, so that 
there was a large overflow to Georgetown and Balti- 
more. The event which attracted the greatest measure 
of public attention was an address by Senator Seward 
to a body of his constituents who called upon him in 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 



83 



Washington, and the chief point of interest in this was 
its omission to disclose any of the purposes of the in- 
coming administration, of which it was understood that 
he was to become the premier. 



XIV. 

THE INAUGURATION. A MEMORABLE SCENE. 

A BEIGHT sun rose over the city of Washington on 
March 4th, the day appointed by law for the inaugura- 
tion of President Lincoln. It was an orderly city ; a 
stranger would not have suspected that any preparations 
had been made to suppress insurrection, or that the ne- 
cessity for such precautions existed. The leading seces- 
sionists had taken their departure. Those who remained 
belonged to the reckless, disorderly class, below the aver- 
age respectability of the party they served. Since the 
influx of Northern Eepublicans, these roughs had be- 
come less demonstrative, so that it was safe for ladies 
and gentlemen to make use of the streets and sidewalks. 
Some experiments had been tried in insulting and jos- 
tling the recent arrivals, which had resulted disagreeably 
for the assailants, who were much depressed by another 
postponement of the revolution. General Scott had sta- 
tioned his small force of regulars and volunteers where 
they were inconspicuous, but could be made serviceable 
at very short notice. His dispositions had been so qui- 
etly made that surprise was expressed because so little 
had apparently been done by way of preparation. 

At an early hour a dense multitude occupied both 
sides of the avenue from the Executive Mansion to the 
foot of Capitol Hill, where it divided, surrounding the 
grounds and filling the open space and the square on 
the east front of the Capitol, on the steps of which a 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 85 

broad platform had been erected, whence the inaugural 
address was to be delivered. At all the street crossings 
platforms with seats had been built, all of which were 
crowded. Every window overlooking the avenue was 
filled with the bright costumes of ladies and children, 
while many displayed the national colors. Cables had 
been stretched on either side of the carriage-way which 
was kept clear by a small force of policemen, without 
apparent difficulty. No shops were open; business was 
suspended, and the real, and not the pretended closing 
of the liquor saloons by the order of General Scott, 
essentially contributed to the order of the day. 

The procession set out from the Executive Mansion. 
President Buchanan there entered the carriage which, 
drawn by four led horses, and preceded by the Marshal 
of the District with his aids on horseback, moved out of 
the grounds to the avenue. Here a selected company 
of the sappers and miners of the regular army, com- 
manded by Captain Duane of the Engineers, who had 
sought and obtained the position of a guard of honor, 
formed in a hollow square, with the carriage in its cen- 
tre. No body of men of finer appearance and discipline, 
or more trustworthy and loyal, ever guarded the great 
Frederick or a Koman emperor. With the surrounded 
carriage they moved down the avenue with the unity 
and precision of a machine, followed by several compa- 
nies of uniformed volunteers, the whole procession com- 
prising not more than five hundred men. In front of 
"Willard's Hotel a halt was made. Mr. Lincoln walked 
out through the crowd which civilly opened a lane to 
permit him to pass, and entered the carriage. The ven- 
erable form, pallid face, and perfectly white hair of Mr. 
Buchanan contrasted powerfully with the tall figure, 
coal-black hair, and rugged features of Mr. Lincoln, and 



86 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

suggested that the exhausted energies of the old were 
to be followed by the vigorous strength of the new ad- 
ministration. 

The appearance of the President-elect was the signal 
for a slight cheer of welcome and the waving of ban- 
ners from the windows. It was time for me to leave 
for the Capitol. As my carriage drove rapidly down 
F Street, to a station where arrangements had been 
made to pass invited guests through the crowd to the 
platform, I heard the volume of cheers roll down the 
avenue pari passu with the procession. I learned after- 
wards that the tall form of Mr. Lincoln was exposed 
during the whole distance, so that a shot from a con- 
cealed assassin from any one of the thousand windows 
would have ended his career. But not only was no as- 
sault attempted, but, as I was assured by the marshal, 
no word of discourtesy or insult was heard during the 
progress of the procession through over a mile of the 
crowded streets. 

A memorable spectacle lay before our eyes, after we 
had ascended the steps inside and come out upon the 
platform. North and south from the ends of the great 
Capitol building, the ground fell off, while on the east 
were the vacant Capitol grounds, a broad square, each 
side of which measured some five hundred yards, bound- 
ed on the farther side by a street. All this space, includ- 
ing the eastern portico, was filled by the multitude, 
patiently awaiting the arrival of the President. The 
people were quiet, orderly, silent. They had come to 
see and hear. A few policemen were present, but the 
only duties they performed appeared to be the directing 
of persons holding tickets to their seats on the platform. 
Not a soldier was visible. Far out on the street, in front 
of the building afterwards well known as the " Old Cap- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 87 

itol Prison," was a thin line of mounted men. Had I 
not been informed beforehand, I should not have sus- 
pected that these horsemen were the visible parts of 
two batteries of horse artillery of the regular army, 
ready for action should any occasion arise for their ser- 
vices. 

We were not long kept waiting. A passage had been 
kept open from the columns of the eastern portico, 
across the whole platform, to its front. From between 
the two central columns first appeared the marshal with 
a man of soldierly bearing by his side. The tall, bent 
form with the intellectual face of the Chief Justice of 
the United States followed, arm in arm with the Presi- 
dent-elect. Senators, congressmen, officers of the army 
and navy brought up the rear. But the crowd had no 
eyes for them. All were fixed upon Mr. Lincoln. The 
party advanced to the front of the platform, where a 
small table had been placed for Mr. Lincoln's conven- 
ience. Without seating himself, the silvery voice of 
Senator Baker, of Oregon, rang out over the multitude 
with these simple words, u Fellow-citizens, I introduce 
to you Abraham Lincoln, the President-elect of the 
United States of America!" 

A slight ripple of applause followed this introduction. 
The commanding figure of Senator Baker receded into 
the audience. When I next saw it, the soul had gone 
out of it at Ball's Bluff. It lay, torn and disfigured by 
a score of rebel bullets, in the east room of the White 
House, covered by the flag in defence of which he gave 
his life. With head uncovered, towering above the 
eminent men by whom he was surrounded, Mr. Lincoln 
advanced to the table and commenced the reading of 
his address. 

There were few persons in that uncounted throng who 



88 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

expected to hear, or were in a frame of mind to appre- 
ciate, the import of that address. It needed the light 
of subsequent events for its comprehension. I count it 
as one of the valued opportunities of my life, that, seated 
only a few yards away from the speaker, I heard dis- 
tinctly every word he uttered, watched the play of his 
strong features, and noted the effect of his emphatic 
sentences upon the persons around me. A flash of light 
swept over the field as the faces of the multitude were 
turned towards Mr. Lincoln, when the words " Fellow- 
citizens of the United States" fell from his lips. Few 
of those faces were turned away until his last words 
had been spoken. 

Mr. Lincoln's ordinary voice was pitched in a high 
and not unmusical key. Without effort it was heard at 
an unusual distance. Persons at the most distant mar- 
gins of the audience said that every word he spoke was 
distinctly audible to them. The silence was unbroken. 
No speaker ever secured a more undivided attention, for 
almost every hearer felt a personal interest in what he 
was to say. His friends feared, those who were not his 
friends hoped, that, forgetting the dignity of his posi- 
tion, and the occasion, he would descend to the practices 
of the story-teller, and fail to rise to the level of a states- 
man. For he was popularly known as the " Bail-split- 
ter;" was supposed to be uncouth in his manner, and 
low, if not positively vulgar, in his moral nature. If 
not restrained by personal fear, it was thought that he 
might attack those who differed with him in opinion 
with threats and denunciations. 

But the great heart and kindly nature of the man 
were apparent in his opening sentence, in the tone of his 
voice, the expression of his face, in his whole manner 
and bearing. The key-note of his address might have 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 89 

been shown in a sentence. Distrustful of himself, and 
relying upon the assistance of the Almighty, he should, 
to the best of his ability, discharge the trust which his 
office imposed, of supporting the Constitution, and main- 
taining the Union of the states in its integrity, as it was 
bequeathed to us by our fathers. But he required, he 
desired, he besought, the cooperation of his fellow-citi- 
zens in the execution of his trust. This same duty rested 
alike upon himself and all his fellow-citizens. It was 
the defence and preservation of their joint inheritance. 
He was about to take an oath in their presence, before 
Almighty God, to protect and defend the Constitution. 
Would his fellow-citizens assist him to keep the oath, 
and execute the trust it involved ? Whatever else might 
happen, " the Union must be, should be preserved !" 

His introduction had not been welcomed by a cheer, 
his opening remarks elicited no response. The silence 
was long-continued and became positively painful. But 
the power of his earnest words began to show itself; 
the sombre cloud which seemed to hang over the audi- 
ence began to fade away when he said, " I hold that in 
the contemplation of universal law, and of the Constitu- 
tion, the Union of these states is perpetual!" with the 
words " I shall take care, as the Constitution itself ex- 
pressly enjoins upon me, that the 'laws of the Union 
shall be faithfully executed in all the states /' ' : And 
when, with uplifted eyes and solemn accents, he said, 
" The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, 
and possess the property and places belonging to the 
government," a great wave of enthusiasm rolled over 
the audience, as the united voices of the immense mul- 
titude ascended heavenward in a roar of assenting 
applause. 

From this time to the end of the address, Abraham 



90 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

Lincoln controlled the audience at his will. He had 
gained the confidence of his hearers and secured their 
respect and affection. ]STor did he abuse his power. 
There was not a trace of menace, not a word of criti- 
cism, not an unfriendly suggestion in the entire speech. 
Who that heard them will ever forget the influence of 
those affectionate sentences with which the address ter- 
minated ? " I am loath to close. We are not enemies, 
but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion 
may have strained, it must not break, our bonds of 
affection." 

" The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every 
battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and 
hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the 
chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they 
will be, by the better angels of our nature !" 

There was no hesitancy in the judgment which the 
audience was prepared to pronounce upon this inaugural 
address. From end to end of the Capitol, from the 
farthest limits of East Capitol Square, from the distant 
street where General Scott and his batteries were posted 
as a corps of observation, and from every superficial 
foot of the enclosed space, a burst of applause arose 
which made loyal hearts beat more rapidly, and the 
blood in loyal arteries leap joyously to their extremities. 
Over and over again the cheer was repeated. Grave 
senators and judges "joined in the rapturous cry, 
and even the ranks of slavery could scarce forbear to 
cheer !" 

The Chief Justice of the United States now came for- 
ward. His venerable appearance gave to what might 
have been a mere matter of form great dignity and im- 
pressive significance. He extended an open Bible, upon 
which Mr. Lincoln laid his left hand, and, uplifting his 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 91 

right arm, he slowly repeated after the Chief Justice 
the words of the Constitution. " I do solemnly swear 
that I will faithfully execute the office of President of 
the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, 
preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the 
United States. So help me God!" 

The ceremony ended. Those upon the broad platform 
rose and remained standing as the President and his 
party passed back into the building. The procession re- 
formed in the same order as before and returned, leav- 
ing at the White House, as President of the United 
States, the private citizen it had escorted from the hotel. 
"Within the hour another carriage, in which there was a 
single occupant, was driven down the avenue to the only 
railroad-station then in "Washington. It contained ex- 
President Buchanan, returning as a private citizen to 
his Pennsylvania home, bearing with him less credit for 
loyal service to his country than he deserved. The 
crowd rapidly melted away. The change was com- 
pleted. "Without disorder or disturbance, with the dig- 
nity befitting an act of such transcendent importance, 
and, as events proved, upon the very threshold of civil 
war, the will of the people expressed at the ballot-box 
was executed, the old administration had surrendered 
its great powers to the new, and Abraham Lincoln, 
with the prestige of law and order in his favor, had 
become the President of the Republic. To this de- 
sirable result, General Dix and Mr. Stanton had each 
powerfully contributed ; Judge Holt and others less con- 
spicuously. Mr. Buchanan might justly have claimed 
credit for patriotic intentions partly executed. It was 
less his fault than his misfortune that the weakness of 
declining years led him to repose confidence in those 
who were false to their country and to himself. But 






92 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

it was the united opinion of the closest observers that 
the man to whose prudence, energy, and patriotism the 
country was chiefly indebted for the peace of March 
4th, 1861, was Winfield Scott, Lieutenant-General, Com- 
manding the Army. 



XV. 

SOME NOTES UPON GENERAL SCOTT AND ROBERT E. LEE. 

ACCIDENT, united with admiration for some of his ster- 
ling qualities, at this time gave me opportunities of 
acquaintance with General Scott and members of his 
military family. Disregarding the chronology of events, 
possibly this is as good a time as I shall have to bring 
together and revise the impressions made upon me by 
these interviews. 

No man, not Mr. Lincoln himself, was at this time 
more intensely hated by the secessionists than General 
Scott. A Virginian by birth and education, he became a 
citizen of South Carolina, and, while residing in Charles- 
ton, left the law for the career of a soldier. He was a 
favorite with Southern officers throughout his long ser- 
vice in the army, and they confidently anticipated that 
he would side with the South when the hour of separa- 
tion came. He had been called from New York to Wash- 
ington early in December. Even before the election, 
correctly forecasting its results, he had urgently advised 
President Buchanan to reinforce the Southern forts and 
put them in a better condition for defence. Many times 
after he came to Washington he had pressed similar 
suggestions upon the Executive. He had become suspi- 
cious of the Secretary of War, and on one noted occa- 
sion had personally requested permission to send two 
hundred and fifty men, with munitions of war and sup- 
plies, to Fort Sumter without the knowledge of that 



94 RECOLLECTIONS OP PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

officer. His request was disregarded, and he then turned 
his attention to the defence of "Washington and its secur- 
ity during the inauguration. Although himself reticent 
upon the subject, it was known to his friends that strong 
influences, founded upon his attachment to his native 
state, had been brought to bear to detach him from the 
cause of the Union ; that appeals to his duty to Vir- 
ginia, offers of high command, and arguments of influ- 
ential Virginians had failed to shake his loyalty to his 
flag. He was reported to have sternly informed one 
Virginia senator that his friendship for that gentleman 
would not survive a second suggestion of desertion. 

Unable to obtain even the promise of his neutrality, 
they abandoned all hope of influencing him, and set him 
down as an enemy to be removed or destroyed. Then 
there was a change! The intensity of secession wrath 
and fury contrasted powerfully with the magnificent con- 
tempt for both with which the veteran pursued his path 
to duty. They exhausted the vocabulary for words 
of invective, and threats of assassination became so nu- 
merous that a mail which did not bring them was the 
exception. I shall not soil my pages with the foul epi- 
thets with which they made the city vocal. 

One of their charges had some evidence in its support. 
" He was untrue to the South," they said, " not because 
he loved the Union, but because he hated Jefferson Davis. 
They had been enemies for thirty years. The cause grew 
out of General Scott's vanity, which had been wounded 
by changes in his " General Regulations for the Army," 
for which he held Mr. Davis responsible while he was 
connected with West Point. Mr. Davis, also, as chair- 
man of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs, had 
felt bound to oppose, and had for several years succeeded 
in postponing, the passage of the resolution which au- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 05 

thorized the President to confer upon General Scott the 
brevet rank of lieutenant-general. As a cabinet officer, 
he had prevented any increase of pay under the resolu- 
tion, until Congress interfered by a positive declaration 
that it be allowed. " It was selfish interest and wounded 
vanity," they said, "and not patriotism or fidelity to 
the Stars and Stripes, that bound him to the decaying 
cause of the Union." 

I once heard the subject of his relations with Mr. 
Davis, and this charge, mentioned in his presence. It 
was on the 9th of February, the day following the elec- 
tion of Mr. Davis to the Presidency of the Southern 
Confederacy. 

" I have no quarrel with Mr. Davis," said the veteran 
chief ; " I must decline to discuss the statements to which 
you refer. Possibly they may have some color of truth. 
For more than thirty years he has been my persistent, 
deadly enemy. Yet he never did me much harm. The 
American people took excellent care that his plots against 
me should not succeed. But I can give a better reason 
why loyal men ought not to consort with him. He is 
a false man false by nature, habit, and choice. His 
patriotism consists in promoting the interests of Jeffer- 
son Davis and his pets. His pets are the men that he 
can use. General Taylor should have been a good judge 
of Mr. Davis, for he was his father-in-law, and had excel- 
lent opportunities of estimating his value. He despised 
him thoroughly." 

"I am amazed," he continued, warming to his sub- 
ject, "that any man of judgment should hope for the 
success of any cause in which Jefferson Davis is a leader. 
There is contamination in his touch. If secession was 
the ' holiest cause that tongue or sword of mortal ever 
lost or gained,' he would ruin it ! He will bear a great 



96 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

amount of watching. My friends in Congress learned 
that he had arranged for a veto of the resolution which 
had passed both Houses, giving me the pay and allow- 
ances of a lieutenant-general, according to their inten- 
tion, of which his machinations had deprived me for 
three years. Against his opposition, they then incor- 
porated the resolution as an amendment into the Mili- 
tary Appropriation Bill, which he could not afford to 
veto. He was chairman of the Military Committee; 
they had to appoint a committee of their own number 
to watch the amendment from its adoption until it was 
written into the engrossed bill to prevent its being lost ! 
He is not a cheap Judas. I do not think he would have 
sold the Saviour for thirty shillings ; but for the succes- 
sorship of Pontius Pilate, he would have betrayed Christ 
and the apostles and the whole Christian Church !" 

In his intercourse with Northern men, about the time 
of Mr. Lincoln's inauguration, General Scott expressed 
his opinions without any apparent reserve. He had no 
sympathy with the abolitionists ; his opinions were de- 
cidedly pro-slavery. Long after others had abandoned 
all hope of a peaceful settlement, he citing to the hope 
that a great Union party might be formed on the basis 
of the "Crittenden Resolutions," which would bring 
back the seceded states, and prevent war. If war be- 
came inevitable, he declared it would be long, bloody, 
and expensive. The North would prevail, because it 
was the stronger in numbers and resources; but it was 
hopeless to attempt to subjugate the South with an 
army of less than three hundred thousand men. The 
assertion that the South was the superior of the North 
in personal courage excited his contempt. He had led 
men in battle from every state in the Union. There 
was little difference in their fighting qualities. Why 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 97 

should there be ? They were of the same race and ori- 
gin. Even the immigrants were principally of the same 
descent. If the Southern men had more dash, the North- 
ern had better staying qualities. 

He spoke of himself with equal freedom. " His day," 
he said, " had passed. Age and pain had exhausted him. 
He had not for many months been able to walk without 
assistance, or to move without pain. The general com- 
manding an army must be able to lead as well as to 
direct it. Successful generals, from Alexander to Napo- 
leon, with few exceptions, had been young men. Desaix 
and Hoche, the youngest marshals of Napoleon, had 
been his most efficient generals." 

Twice, in my presence, General Scott spoke in compli- 
mentary terms of Colonel Robert E. Lee. One of these 
occasions was previous to the day of the inauguration, 
immediately after Colonel Lee arrived in Washington 
from Texas, and about the first of March. He " knew 
him thoroughly. He was an accomplished soldier, equal 
to any position to the command of the army." He 
spoke of the opinions of Colonel Lee as from personal 
knowledge. " He is loyal to the Union," he said, " from 
principle as well as birth, and his education as a soldier." 
He had very recent evidence that Colonel Lee was not 
and never would be a secessionist. 

The biographer of General Lee has very recently 
made public the evidence which, I have no doubt, enabled 
General Scott to speak so positively of the opinions at 
that time held by Colonel Lee. He has published a 
letter written by the latter from Texas' to his son in 
Washington under date of January 23d, 1861, in which 
secession is condemned in emphatic terms. He said: 
" Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of 
our Constitution never would have exhausted so much 

' 7. 



98 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and sur- 
rounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was 
intended to be broken by every member of the confed- 
eracy at will. It is intended for perpetual union, as 
expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of 
a government, not a compact, which can only be dis- 
solved by revolution or the consent of all the people in 
convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession. 
Anarchy would have been established, and not a govern- 
ment, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and 
all the other patriots of the Revolution." 

Within six weeks after the 4th of March, I had occa- 
sion to recall these strong expressions by General Scott, 
of his confidence in the loyalty of Colonel Lee. Instead 
of waiting for the paymaster to make his rounds, the 
officers of the army and navy, who resigned to take 
service with the Confederacy, secured an arrangement 
with their departments by which they were paid, to the 
date of their resignations, by treasury-warrants. I be- 
lieve it was General Spinner, the treasurer, who suggest- 
ed that, as these gentlemen were going South, we should 
pay them by drafts on the stolen assistant-treasuries in 
the seceded states. As the warrants passed my office, I 
marked them for such drafts when I had the necessary 
information. 

On one of the dark days which afterwards shrouded 
the capital, when these officers were deserting their flag 
and resigning their commissions by scores being care- 
ful to collect the last dollar of their pay one of these 
warrants, payable to a member of the family of Colonel 
Lee, was brought to me for signature. It was on the 
20th day of April, three days after the secession of Vir- 
ginia. I marked it, " Pay by draft on Richmond," as 
there was more government money there than in the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 99 

treasury at Washington. Though we knew the rebels 
had seized it, we thought it would serve for the payment 
of rebel claims. My innocent note made trouble. Several 
of the officer's friends called to assure me that I was do- 
ing himself and his family great injustice; that they 
were all loyal; that he resigned because he could not 
fight his native state but he would never fight against 
the Union. Then it was that I heard the report that it 
was not Colonel Lee who was to resign ; it was General 
Scott, and Colonel Lee was to be his successor in the 
command of the Union army. I was inflexible. I would 
not change the order except upon the written pledge of 
the officer not to enter the Confederate service. It is 
unnecessary to add that the pledge was not given. 

At the time I was being urged to pay this claim, the 
resignation of Colonel Lee was in the hands of General 
Scott. " It has cost me a struggle," he wrote, " to 
separate from superiors and comrades who have been so 
kind and considerate to me." Bat for the republic, to 
the bounty of which he owed his education, his position, 
and the greater part of his possessions, there was no 
word of gratitude, obligation, or regret. " Save in de- 
fence of my native state," he said, "I never desire 
again to draw my sword." His intent and purpose did 
not correspond to his desire. 

Three days later, in the state house in Richmond, he 
received from Governor Letcher the appointment of 
"Commander of all the military and naval forces of 
Virginia," as he declared, with an approving conscience, 
there pledging himself to her service, and asserting that, 
"except in her behalf, he would never again draw his 
sword" On the 10th of May he accepted the command 
of " all the forces of the Confederate States in Virginia." 
Twice he led an invading army to meet disaster and de- 



100 RECOLLECTIONS OP PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

feat north of the Potomac ; and if the republic was not 
destroyed and a slave-ocracy erected upon its ruins, it 
was not because he failed to labor diligently to that end 
from the date last named until rebellion was driven by 
loyal hands to its unlamented grave. 

No loyal American desires to abate or diminish by 
one grain any credit gained by any participant in the 
rebellion. He is content that the Confederacy should 
rest quietly on the bloody field where it fell until it has 
faded from the memory of man. It had no right nor 
reason to be. It was a rebellion against the freest 
government that ever existed. It was sown in con- 
spiracy, nourished by patriotic blood, and perished from 
exhaustion. The sooner it is forgotten, the better for those 
who caused and upheld it, for the country, and mankind. 

The defection of Colonel Lee has been treated by the 
loyal North with exceptional charity. His conscientious- 
ness in resigning his commission has not been questioned. 
His admirers should have accepted the situation and not 
have excited discussion by presenting his example as one 
worthy of imitation by patriotic men. That discussion 
inevitably raises the question, What would have happened 
if Colonel Lee had followed the example of General Scott 
and Major Geo. H. Thomas, and continued loyal to the 
Union ? 

For more than two centuries the Lees had been the 
most influential family in Virginia. It was a Lee who 
gave to Washington his deserved place " First in war, 
first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." 
By his marriage, Colonel Lee had united the wealth and 
influence of the Washingtons and the Lees. He had 
been made the ward of the republic ; he had been edu- 
cated at its expense ; he had voluntarily enlisted in its 
service. He had obtained his first, and every succeeding 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 101 

commission, by pledging himself on his honor, " to bear 
true faith and allegiance to the United States of Amer- 
ica to serve them honestly and faithfully against all 
their enemies whatsoever, and to obey the orders of the 
President of the United States, and the orders of the 
officers appointed over him, according to the rules and 
articles of war." If between the two oceans that wash 
its remotest limits there was one man more firmly than 
any other bound to the service of the republic by tra- 
dition, training, associations, pecuniary considerations, 
and the honor of a soldier, that man was Colonel Lee. 

The final verdict of history must be that Colonel Lee 
had no justification for his course. A skilful casuist may 
sometimes break the force of an invincible argument by 
some bold assertion which, although it may be true, has 
no relevancy to the subject. The only plea of justifica- 
tion made by himself at the time, or his eulogists since, 
was that he "could not draw his sword against Vir- 
ginia." To this plea I demur, for irrelevancy. There 
was no issue with Virginia, no question pending of draw- 
ing swords against her or in her defence. Colonel Lee 
came to Washington on the 1st of March, opposed to 
secession, as is shown by his letters. A president, whose 
election was admitted to have been fair and by constitu- 
tional methods, was shortly afterwards inaugurated, and 
became the head of the government. He was pledged 
to non-interference with slavery, bound by his oath to 
maintain the Union. He had made no threat, proposed 
no violent measures. Virginia was still a member of 
the Federal Union. At her last election the Unionists 
were a powerful majority. Had Colonel Lee remained 
loyal, had he thrown the weight of his family, his name, 
and his influence into the scale for the Union, had he 
accepted the command of the Union armies, which he 



102 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

says was tendered to Mm by the President's authority, 
who shall say that the balance would not have been 
turned that he would not have saved the country from 
war and Virginia from devastation ? 

The ability of General Lee as a leader of armies was 
very great. It was acquired in the service of the United 
States. His character was elevated, and in many re- 
spects worthy of imitation, for its foundations were laid 
in the first military school of the republic. He was 
not unduly elated by victory, nor depressed by defeat. 
He was respected by his foes, admired by his intimates, 
beloved by his soldiers. Next after his desire to win 
victories was his purpose to mitigate the evils of war. 
Only one unsoldierly act, and that was one of omission, 
was ever mentioned to his discredit. It was that he did 
not actively interfere to suppress the horrible treatment 
of Union prisoners. Of that no man should be accused 
except upon plenary proof. He was the pride of the 
Confederacy, and the love which the Virginians bore 
him surpassed their love for "Washington. Peace to his 
ashes, and honor to his memory ! But it cannot be for- 
gotten that his otherwise stainless life was defaced by 
one gigantic error, which must not be suppressed lest 
any man fall after the same example. 



XYI. 

THE NONES AND IDES OF MARCH. THE NEW CABINET. 

THE inaugural address called forth opinions as diverse 
as the issues which disturbed the country. The Union- 
ists in the South received it with favor. They said its 
tone was pacific, and that no just complaint could be 
made of the evident purpose of the author to preserve 
the Union and to perform his constitutional duty of 
enforcing the laws. The organs of the Douglas Democ- 
racy declared that in its statesmanship it met the ex- 
pectations of the country, and its effects would be salu- 
tary. The Secessionists denounced it as sectional and 
mischievous, and insisted that if the President meant 
what he said, it was the knell and requiem of the Union, 
and the death-blow of hope. The pronounced Republi- 
cans were inclined to reserve their judgment. They did 
not quite like his positive pledge not to interfere with 
slavery ; but, on the other hand, with a strong tendency 
to conciliate, it was decided in its condemnation of seces- 
sion and in its purpose to preserve the Union. The fact 
was that none of the parties appreciated the dignity and 
power of the document, nor the ability and sound sense 
of its author. Read by the light of subsequent events, 
it proved to be one of the most able state papers of its 
generation, and fully equal to the great demands of the 
emergency. 

The announcement of the names of the cabinet officers 
for the moment diverted the public attention from other 
subjects. They were obviously selected upon the novel, 



104 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

and it was feared dangerous, principle of placing the 
government in the hands of those members of the suc- 
cessful party most in favor with the people, as shown 
by their strength in the nominating convention. Upon 
this principle Mr. Seward had no competitor for the De- 
partment of State. Mr. Chase was selected for the 
Treasury, Mr. Cameron for the War Department, and 
Mr. Bates for the Attorney-Generalship. The President 
desired that the slave-holding states should have a more 
decided representative of their interests than Mr. Bates, 
and places were offered to distinguished statesmen of Vir- 
ginia and North Carolina. Upon their declination the 
vacancies remaining were filled by Montgomery Blair, 
of Maryland, who had considerable strength in the nom- 
inating convention, Caleb B. Smith, a moderate Repub- 
lican from Indiana, and Mr. Welles, of Connecticut, a 
very conservative representative of New England. 

In the construction of his cabinet Mr. Lincoln had ob- 
viously determined to secure strength at the sacrifice of 
unity. It was scarcely to be expected that the views of 
Mr. Seward and Mr. Chase, or Mr. Cameron and Mr. 
Bates, could be harmonized. On the other hand, the 
Cabinet comprised some of the strongest men of the 
party, who would administer their several departments, 
each in his own way, perhaps, but with force and energy. 
One question was settled by the announcement of their 
names : there would be no more concessions to slavery ! 

My own awakening to the proximity of war occurred 
on the evening of March 3d. I had been the secretary, 
and Governor Chase the chairman, of the caucus of Re- 
publican members of the Peace Conference. We oc- 
cupied adjacent apartments at the Rugby ; we were 
thrown together almost daily, and I had acquired a high 
opinion of the abilities of the Ohio statesman. On the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 105 

evening in question, he called at my rooms, and in his 
peculiarly concise manner said : " I have consented to 
accept the Treasury under Mr. Lincoln. I wish to have 
you take one of its bureaus." 

I thanked him, but said it was impossible for me to 
accept the offer. I was dependent upon my profession, 
I had a young family to educate, and I could not afford 
to accept office upon so small a salary. 

""We are living at a time when such considerations 
have no weight," he said. " Within a few weeks men of 
your age and health will have no choice. You will be 
compelled to enter the service of the government. You 
are worth more in the Treasury than you can be in the 
field ; therefore it is your duty to go into the Treasury." 

" Is it possible," I asked, " that you think we are on 
the verge of war ? that we are to ha.ve bloodshed ?" 

" There is no more doubt of it, in my opinion," he said, 
" than there is of your existence. There is only one way 
to avoid it. It is that suggested by General Scott, to 
say to the seceded states, ' Wayward sisters, depart in 
peace !' Would New England consent to that ?" 

" No," I answered, " not to the diminution of the 
Union by one square inch ! But I cannot take in the 
possibility, the suggestion of war, with all its conse- 
quences. I must think over what you tell me. I can- 
not leave Vermont it is the home of my fathers." 

The words of Governor Chase were a shock as well as 
a surprise to me. Except our brief experience in dis- 
tant Mexico, the existing generation knew nothing of 
war. We had all assumed that the good sense of Con- 
gress would discover some way of avoiding war of ar- 
ranging the controversy without disunion or final sepa- 
ration. This conviction of Mr. Chase confounded me. 
But I persisted that family duties and professional busi- 



106 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ness forbade my acceptance of any office except the col- 
lectorship of my own district, for which I then informed 
him I should be an applicant. 

I returned to my Vermont home and my law office. 
After the confirmation of the Cabinet, for nearly three 
weeks there was a lull in the public excitement, and ne- 
gotiations on the part of the seceded states were again 
attempted. On the 22d of March I was summoned to 
Washington. I met Governor Chase, who informed me 
that he had appointed a collector for the district of Ver- 
mont, and, as I thought, with very little consideration 
for my claims. He again pressed me to accept an ap- 
pointment in the Treasury, which I was again compelled 
to decline. On my way home I passed the night at the 
Astor House, in New York city, and at breakfast, on the 
morning of March 26th, read in the newspapers the an- 
nouncement of my confirmation as Register of the Treas- 
ury, to which office I had been appointed on the day 
before. 

On reaching my home I found a letter from Secretary 
Chase, asking me to accept the office of register, at 
least for the time, and to return to Washington as soon 
as I could make arrangements for an absence of a few 
weeks from my business. I set about these arrange- 
ments, and for nearly three weeks was actively occupied 
with them. 

On the 14th of April there was a whispered rumor, 
which found speedy confirmation. The first gun of trea- 
son had been fired against Fort Sumter. Next we heard 
that Sumter had fallen. The first effect of this informa- 
tion on the public mind was stupefying, as when a deadly 
blow is struck across the temples. It was nearly two 
days before the reaction began. Then it swept every- 
thing before it. In a moment, in the twinkling of an 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 107 

eye, as if at the call of a trumpet, the united voice of the 
loyal North denounced the treason and invoked judg- 
ment on the traitors. I have some notes of the begin- 
ning of the uprising of a great people made at the time. 
I will transcribe a few of them : 

" Monday, April 15th, at 9 A.M., I left Burlington for 
Washington. Yesterday the news of the surrender of Fort 
Sumter to the rebels by Major Anderson swept through 
New England. The indignation is indescribable. With 
it came the answer of the President to the delegates 
from Virginia, that he should not depart from the prin- 
ciples of his inaugural address. Crowds were collected 
at all the stations on the railroads, even at the small 
country towns, thirsting for news. At Rutland we had 
the Troy morning papers, with the proclamation for an 
extra session of Congress on the 4th of July, and the 
President's call for seventy-five thousand men for the re- 
capture of the Southern forts and the defence of the 
country. We had an hour at Troy. The crowds in- 
creased in numbers and exultation. A mass-meeting is 
called for to-night to arrange for enlistments. Leading 
citizens say that there is only one party now the party 
of the Union. Gen. Wool heads the call. Passed 
through great crowds at every station on the railroad, 
and reached the Astor House at ten o'clock in the even- 
ing. City Hall Square is packed with an orderly crowd, 
which has made a demonstration against the New York 
Herald, and compelled it to display the Union flag. No 
expressions against the Union or the President are per- 
mitted." 

There was little sleep that night in the lower part of 
the city. Cheers for President Lincoln and the Union, 
and patriotic songs rang through the streets. A despatch 
from Governor Fairbanks requested me to ascertain 



108 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

when the First Regiment of Vermont Volunteers would 
be accepted. I was unable to get any decent seat in the 
train until the following evening, and the cars then were 
crowded. I reached Washington at daybreak on Wednes- 
day, April 17th. The enthusiasm pervaded Philadelphia, 
but was not apparent in Baltimore, nor visible in Wash- 
ington. 

If the experiences of that journey could be adequately 
represented on paper, they would serve as an instructive 
lesson to all who in future may harbor the thought of 
trifling with the Union, or showing any want of respect 
to the national flag. Men may come and men may go, 
but the love of Americans for the Stars and Stripes will 
abide forever. Never before had the flag seemed to 
me half so glorious. I left my home with no thought 
but that of returning to it as soon as I had performed 
any temporary service which I might be able to render 
to the Secretary. When I reached Washington I was 
willing to take any place in which I could render the 
best service to my country. 



XVII. 

A NOVEL INDUCTION INTO OFFICE. 

I HAP an invitation to breakfast with Secretary Chase 
at the Rugby House. He had so many friends who 
"waited on their office according to their order," and 
who pursued him even to the breakfast-room, that he 
only had time for a few words with me. " Your com- 
mission," he said, " is in the hands of Mr. Harrington 
(the First Assistant Secretary). 1 wish you. would get 
it, take the oath, and assume possession of your office 
this morning. Whatever may happen, I must have 
some Republicans near me upon whom I can rely." 

Mr. Harrington directed me to one of the district 
judges, before whom I could take the oath of office. A 
clerk, who he said was well known to the judge, ac- 
companied to identify me. We found " His Honor " not 
in a judicial temper, and evidently much tossed about 
in his mind. " He transacted his business in court," he 
said, "and not at his private residence." He declined 
to recognize my attendant. He did not know " why he 
should be annoyed by Republican office-seekers. He 
should not inconvenience himself to accommodate them; 
his court was held at the City Hall ; it opened at eleven 
o'clock." 

" I am here," I remarked, " at this early hour, at the 
special request of the Secretary of the Treasury. I am 
assured that you have often administered oaths upon 
the identification of the clerk sent here with me. Being 



HO RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

myself a lawyer, I can recognize an unsound excuse for 
the non-performance of a judicial duty. I respectfully 
ask you to administer the oath, or, in plain terms, and 
not by inference, decline to do so." 

He snatched the commission from my hand, mutter- 
ing, in an undertone, something about " committal " and 
" for disrespect," scrawled his name upon the paper, and 
flung it at me in a contemptuous manner. " You have 
certified to what is not true," I said. " If this manner 
of administering an official oath suits you, I think your 
certificate will answer my purpose." 

It was, I think, his last judicial act. He " went South " 
the next day, and I saw him no more. 1 refer to this 
incident because it illustrates the sullen anger of the 
Secessionists who at that time swarmed in the streets of 
Washington. 

My predecessor in office received me courteously, and 
introduced me to the clerks and employes in the bureau. 
He had prepared for the change, and delivered the office 
to me in excellent working order. He soon after took 
his departure, offering his services should I, at any time, 
have occasion to need them. 

My first discovery in office was that its atmosphere 
was one which I could not breathe, and to which I could 
never become accustomed. It was as fatal to personal 
independence as carbonic-acid gas to animal life. The 
clerks approached the presence of the head-officer as if 
he were a superior being. I never could tolerate the 
sight of a person who came up to me " washing his hands 
with invisible soap in imperceptible water." The change 
of a cringing, grovelling carriage in the presence of supe- 
riors was my first official decision. It had been attend- 
ed with petty tyranny over inferiors. 

There were but slight indications that Washington, 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 

would take any part in the answer which I knew would 
be returned from the North to the call of the President 
for seventy-live thousand men. One or two volunteer 
companies had tendered their services, and the War De- 
partment had accepted them. But every one seemed 
to be waiting to see what Virginia would do. If Vir- 
ginia seceded, the prevailing opinion seemed to be that 
the cause of the Union was hopeless. I did not like the 
atmosphere nor the surroundings. My first day of offi- 
cial life was neither cheerful nor satisfactory. 

The first papers presented for my signature, on the 
morning of April 18th, were certificates for the fraction 
of the month's salary claimed by two clerks who had 
resigned to take office under the Confederacy at Mont- 
gomery, Alabama. My chief clerk said that my cer- 
tificates were necessary to enable them to draw their 
money. 

"Why should they draw their money?" I asked. 
" Does not a deserter always forfeit any pay otherwise 
due him ?" 

He did not know, he said. It had been the custom 
in all the bureaus. My predecessor had always signed 
the certificates. He supposed I would not wish to change 
the practice. 

I said the matter would require consideration. From 
the effect produced by this observation, one would have 
supposed desertion to be a virtue rather than an offence. 
The story of the " outrage " flew on the wings of the wind. 
The injured clerks demanded an interview. They were 
filled with indignation. Had they not a right to resign ? 
Could they do otherwise than follow the fortunes of their 
states? The practice of paying up to the date of the 
acceptance was universal. This refusal deprived them 
of their earned wages, etc. 



112 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

I made an end of the subject by the remark that, mor- 
ally, I could see no distinction between their cases and 
that of a soldier who deserts his flag ; that I had neither 
love nor respect for traitors or deserters, and that, with 
my present views, I should not sign those nor any simi- 
lar certificates without the special order of the secre- 
tary. 

I had scarcely disposed of these gentlemen before I 
received a request to attend at the office of Assistant 
Secretary Harrington, at two o'clock on the same day. 
It was a meeting of the chiefs of the bureaus of the 
Treasury. There were no absentees. Mr. Harrington 
said that the secretary would like to have our views 
concerning the defence of the Treasury, if an attack 
should be made upon it. I think General Francis E. 
Spinner, whom I then met for the first time, made the 
first answer. 

" I am for defending the Treasury," he said; "but first 
I would put it into a condition to be defended. The 
building needs cleaning out. I prefer to take my seces- 
sion clear, unadulterated, from the outside. We should 
know whom we can depend upon. The doubtful and 
uncertain should be excluded from the building. I do 
not wish to have men around me who require watching." 

These views met with universal assent. In less time 
than is required to write the account it was agreed that 
the clerks and messengers of all the bureaus should be 
called together at four o'clock, and the number of those 
ascertained who would unite in the defence of the Treas- 
ury. 

" I will have my say !" said one, as the indications of 
adjournment became pressing. " My military education 
was neglected. It consisted in blowing the fife one day 
at a June training. Why may we not have an officer 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 113 

from the War Department to teach us at least the drill 
of the awkward squad ?" 

"Your question, I think, justifies me in giving you 
information of one fact," said Mr. Harrington, address- 
ing the meeting. " It was arranged that Captains Shi- 
ras and Franklin, from the War Department, should or- 
ganize the Treasury regiment, when the secretary de- 
cided first to consult you. You will find the appearance 
of the Treasury changed in the morning. There will be 
no want of arms or instructors." 

We returned to our offices. I can only speak of what 
took place in my own.. To insure that all should be 
notified, I called the clerks into my room, and gave the 
notices in person. There was a flutter of excitement, 
followed by several applications for leave of absence. 
None were granted. At five o'clock each employe of 
the office had the opportunity to sign the following pa- 
per : " I will defend the Treasury, under the orders of 
the officer in charge of it, against all its enemies, to the 
best of my ability." 

This was not a complicated pledge, but it was not re- 
ceived with enthusiasm. In fact, it reminded me of the 
reception of an invitation mentioned by St. Luke, for 
"They all, with one consent, began to make excuse." 
I do not know that any of them had bought a piece of 
ground, or five yoke of oxen, or had married a wife, but 
one had a sick wife, another was surrounded by Seces- 
sionist neighbors, who would make his life a burden if 
he openly joined any Union organization; there was a 
perfect epidemic of heart and nervous diseases, and one 
belonged to a family in which palpitation of the heart 
was hereditary, and always brought on by any sudden 
shock. I assured them that I sincerely regretted their 
unfortunate situations, but I could not see that it was 



114 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

important to the government whether it was deprived 
of their services by cowardice or misfortune ; it was the 
loss of the services in defence of the Treasury which was 
material. 

It remained for an old Southerner to put them to 
shame. He had been in the office almost half a century ; 
he belonged to an old Carolina family. He had been 
appointed when very young, and was put in charge of 
surrendered ship's registers, in the basement of the 
Treasury, where scarcely any one ever had occasion to 
go, and where he had been for so long a time that con- 
nections with his family and friends had long since ceased 
to exist. " I never fired a gun in my life," he said. " I 
could not hit the side of a barn, and I have no doubt that 
I am a coward. But as long as the star-spangled ban- 
ner waves, I have something to live for. If I am too old 
to be of any other use, I can at least act as a powder- 
monkey, and my body will stop a Secession bullet with 
the best of you." He seized the pen, and the name first 
signed to the paper was that of fronds Lowndes. 

His example was followed by all except two or three. 
They were directed to report for further orders at nine 
o'clock on the following morning. 

On the six-o'clock train between five and six hundred 
Pennsylvanians arrived, the first volunteers for the de- 
fence of the capital. " There is a rumor that the Vir- 
ginia Convention has passed the ordinance of secession ! 
All the cars and locomotives have been sent to Kichmond. 
The government should have seized them ten days ago. 
Commodore Paulding, from Norfolk, reports no disturb- 
ance there, and that he has two ships in position to pro- 
tect the government property. These reports are unsat- 
isfactory. If Virginia has seceded, a long war seems to 
me inevitable." Such was my note of that day. 



XVIII. 

THE ISOLATION OF THE CAPITOL. AN ALARMED VIRGINIAN. 

No account of the isolation of Washington has yet 
been written. It began on Friday, April 19, and ended 
on the Thursday following. It was unpredicted, and to 
many as alarming as eclipses formerly were to super- 
stitious peoples. 

On Friday morning the Treasury seemed singularly 
metamorphosed. Armed men guarded its entrances, 
and excluded all but officers and employes. Stacks of 
rifles and boxes of cartridges occupied the halls ; busy 
men were fitting huge beams into the openings, and pil- 
ing sand-bags into exposed places. Barricades, from 
floor to ceiling, closed the way to the vaults, and the 
sharp notes of the bugle rang out at intervals. Captains 
Franklin and Shiras had opened an enlistment office, and 
were forming the Treasury regiment, and recruits in 
squads were already being drilled in all the unoccupied 
spaces. 

Applications to the register for leaves of absence 
were numerous. The epidemic of nervous diseases was 
on the increase. I granted them freely. I did not ex- 
pect the applicants would return, and I was not disap- 
pointed. 

Colonel Lane, of Kansas, and Cassius M. Clay, of Ken- 
tucky, each formed volunteer companies from strangers 
temporarily in the city, which were accepted as guards 
of the Executive Mansion. Squads of these companies 
were under instruction, and were being drilled in the 



116 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

vacant lots and broad streets in the vicinity of the White 
House and the Treasury. 

The first news received from the outside was that the 
company of regulars at Harper's Ferry had sent as many 
of the arms as they could place on the train to Wash- 
ington, and had burned the remainder about fourteen 
thousand stands. The Virginians had organized a force 
to capture the armory as soon as the ordinance of seces- 
sion had been adopted by the Virginia Convention. 

At noon another rumor convulsed the city. It was 
said that the Seventh New York Regiment had been cut 
to pieces by a mob in the streets of Baltimore. I knew 
that regiment had not yet left New York. But some 
regiment had been attacked, and it was assumed, in the 
excitement, that a similar attack would be made upon 
the few volunteers in Washington. Soon we heard that 
the regiment had fought its way through Baltimore, 
and was coming, with its dead and wounded, on a train 
which would arrive about six o'clock that evening. 

I went to the station to await the arrival of the train. 
The crowd was large, and in no mood to listen to trea- 
sonable observations. I heard one man remark that the 
regiment was one of those sent by that d d abolitionist, 
Governor Andrew. The next moment he was sprawling 
in the gutter. Not a word was spoken by his assailant. 

The train arrived. The soldiers left the cars and 
formed in two lines on the street. Then a procession of 
men, with stretchers, came out of the station. On each 
lay a wounded man. I counted seventeen. Their dead 
they had left in Baltimore. The wounded were placed 
in ambulances and sent to the Washington Infirmary. 

Three or four persons in citizen's dress were engaged 
in an excited conversation with a number of officers. 
They were from Baltimore, and had come to arrest the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 

soldier who had fired from the train and killed one Davis, 
a Baltimore merchant. These officers claimed that they 
could identify the soldier, and proposed to arrest him on 
the spot. The colonel said that he would interpose no 
objection, but he would not assist them in making the 
arrest, because the man was cheering for Jeff. Davis 
when he Avas shot. lie should leave the matter with his 
men. The men, with few words, convinced the officers 
that they could not arrest one man unless they were 
prepared to arrest the entire regiment, whereupon they 
abandoned the undertaking. 

A Baltimore acquaintance described the march of the 
last one hundred men through the streets as an act of 
singular gallantry. They were cut off from the rest of 
the regiment, and surrounded by the mob. Forming 
into a square, with fixed bayonets, in double-quick time 
they drove their way through a howling crowd of a 
hundred times their number, and a shower of clubs, 
stones, and shots, to the train, without firing a shot in 
return. 

The rumors flying over the city on Saturday were 
numerous, contradictory, and kept every one who gave 
them much attention in a flutter of excitement. The 
steamers running to Aquia Creek were ordered to 
Richmond, but were sent to the navy yard, and taken 
possession of by the War Department. The Department 
was closed at twelve o'clock, the keys, except of the 
vaults, being left in the doors to enable the engineers 
and two hundred regulars under their orders to com- 
plete the defences of the building. Awkward squads, 
belonging to the Department regiments, were being 
drilled wherever there was a suitable place. 

Sunday morning brought a heavy crop of new rumors, 
but no mails or newspapers from the North. The mo- 



118 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

notony of the day was broken by one incident, which was 
both amusing and interesting. After church, I walked 
down the avenue in the direction of the Capitol. The 
sidewalks were crowded, and I was suddenly thrown 
into the carriageway by a person who, with head bowed 
down, was rushing madly forwards, apparently desirous 
of avoiding observation. Believing that I recognized an 
acquaintance, acting in a very strange manner, I over- 
took him, and, with some difficulty, identified him. It 
proved to be the author of the "Private Libraries of 
New York" a native of Virginia, recently domiciled 
in New York city. He would not recognize me at first, 
but on my insisting, he assumed a position of entreaty 
and exclaimed, " Hush, hush ! I must not be known. 
For God's sake, tell me how I can get across the river." 
I thought he had gone crazy, but he proved to be only 
excited. I invited him, and, after much persuasion, in- 
duced him, to go to my rooms. But he insisted that he 
was pursued that his life was in danger, and he should 
not be safe until he could reach Virginia. He was suf- 
fering from hunger as well as terror. He was an edu- 
cated gentleman, naturally of a nervous temperament, 
who really believed the North had gone mad. From 
his account of the departure of the Seventh New York, 
and the preparations for the great meeting on Saturday, 
I began to gain some idea of the great uprising. After 
I had persuaded him to take some refreshment, which 
somewhat quieted his nerves, I ascertained that he had 
come by the way of Annapolis, and might be able to 
give some reliable information concerning the New York 
Seventh and the Massachusetts Eighth regiments, which 
we had last heard from at Philadelphia on Saturday, 
where they were taking steamers to come to Washing- 
ton, either by way of Annapolis, or up the Potomac 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. H9 

Kiver. He was uncommunicative, until I proposed that 
if he would go with me to the Executive Mansion and 
give the President all the information he had, I would 
procure him a pass across the Potomac into Virginia. 
He accepted the offer. I introduced him to the Presi- 
dent, who, by a skilful cross-examination, extracted the 
few facts in his possession. 

New York, he said, was ablaze with excitement. 
Nothing favorable to the South was permitted to be 
published or spoken. All the Southerners had been 
notified to leave the city within ten hours on pain of 
death ; all their property had been seized, and several 
had been hung to the lamp-posts. He saw the Seventh 
Eegiment depart. The whole city was out to see them 
off. They had left Philadelphia on Saturday with a 
Massachusetts regiment on separate steamers, and had 
not since been heard of. The bridges on the railroads 
had been burned ; he saw some of them burning. He 
was, or claimed to be, unable to tell by what route he 
came. One prevailing idea filled his mind. The whole 
North was already on the way to the invasion and de- 
struction of the South ! They were coming down like 
an avalanche. General B. F. Butler was to be the leader 
of the invading army. 

The information extorted from the doctor scarcely 
paid for the trouble. He received his pass, however, 
and disappeared, making rapid speed in the direction of 
the Long Bridge across the Potomac Kiver. 



XIX. 

BALTIMORE BLOCKS THE WAY. 

ON Saturday, April 20th, Washington was detached 
from the loyal states. We had no mails from the North, 
no communication by railroad or telegraph with Phila- 
delphia, Harrisburgh, or places north or west of either 
city. For news we had only rumor, which informed 
us that bridges had been burned on all the railroads 
running into Baltimore; that the steam ferry-boat at 
Havre-de-Grace had been sunk, and that no regiments 
on the way could reach the capital. 

For outside information we were served with the 
Baltimore Sun. That rebel sheet declared that " Yes- 
terday the best blood of Maryland was spilled by North- 
ern mercenaries." It demanded that " not another sol- 
dier from the North shall desecrate the soil of Maryland." 
It reported a public meeting of citizens of Baltimore, 
one of whom, Carr by name, was " ready to shoulder his 
musket for the defence of Southern homes," and who 
demanded to be immediately informed, " whether the 
minions of Lincoln should cross the soil of Maryland, to 
subjugate our sisters of the South." And the citizens 
answered by unanimous shouts, " No ! never !" 

There has been so much written that is wrong touch- 
ing the action of the officers and people of Maryland on 
and after the 19th of April, that I feel justified in con- 
tributing some definite facts to the literature of the sub- 
ject. Maryland never seceded. Her governor, and the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 121 

members of her Legislature were elected as Union men. 
Baltimore was a Secessionist city. With the exception 
of a small minority of true and daring Republicans, her 
people were disunionists. When the call for seventy- 
five thousand men was issued, for the general service of 
the government, Governor Hicks had undertaken to say 
that " no troops would be sent from Maryland unless it 
may be for the defence of the national capital;" and 
the mayor of Baltimore had joyously exclaimed "Amen !" 
In fact, the governor, instead of boldly placing himself 
on the side of the Union, had practically surrendered 
his authority to the officials of Baltimore. 

Accordingly, no preparations were made to protect 
the Northern regiments, and the second one that passed 
through Baltimore had to fight its way through a mob 
of ten times its number of ruffians, who knew they had 
the moral support of the authorities. The newspapers 
said that only three soldiers were killed and eight wound- 
ed, when more than twenty, with seriouS injuries, were 
lying in the Washington Infirmary. The mayor of the 
city forthwith despatched to the President a committee 
" to explain the fearful condition of affairs," and to in- 
form him that " the people are exasperated to the highest 
degree by the passage of troops, and the citizens are 
universally decided that no more troops should be or- 
dered to come ;" also that " the authorities of the city 
did their best to prevent a collision, and, but for their 
efforts, a fearful slaughter would have occurred." Gov- 
ernor Hicks fully concurred in all that was said by the 
mayor in the above communication. " A public meet- 
ing of citizens," continued the mayor, " has been called, 
and the troops of the state and the city have been called 
out to preserve the peace. They will be enough." The 
governor, the mayor, and the police board telegraphed 



122 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

the president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to 
"send back the troops from Rhode Island and Massa- 
chusetts to the borders of Maryland," and President 
Garrett " most cordially approved the advice, and gave 
the necessary order." 

The mayor and his committees met the President and 
General Scott on the 20th and 21st, and reported that 
the President recognized the good faith of the city and 
state authorities ; that his sole object in concentrating 
troops was the defence of the capital ; that he protested 
that none of the troops brought through Maryland were 
intended for any purpose "aggressive as against the 
Southern states," and that, while insisting that troops 
were necessary for the defence of the capital, both the 
President and General Scott agreed that they would 
bring them around the city, and not irritate the people 
by marching them through Baltimore. The report is 
too long for insertion here, but in substance it repre- 
sented the President as satisfied with the conduct of the 
Baltimore authorities ; that he was conscious that the 
" people of all classes were fully aroused, and that it was 
impossible for any one to answer for the consequences 
of the presence of Northern troops anywhere within the 
borders of Maryland." 

Had these statements been true, had the President and 
General Scott been in the temper of mind here repre- 
sented, Washington would have been in rebel hands 
within forty-eight hours. There were many official acts 
of President Lincoln which seem to have exerted a pow- 
erful influence upon the fortunes of the republic, but there 
was none more beneficial in its results, or which more 
clearly shows his cool judgment, than his dealing with 
the Secessionists of Baltimore at this time of universal 
excitement, almost at the beginning of his official career. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 123 

When he gave these gentlemen his answer, he knew 
of some events of which they were ignorant. He knew 
that his call for men had already been approved by the 
loyal nation ; that more men than he had called for had 
been tendered by a single state ; that there had been a 
great uprising of the people which rendered the insolent 
answers of some rebel governors pitiful by contrast ; that 
every hamlet, as well as every city, from Maine to Ore- 
gon, was alive with the work of preparation, and that 
choice regiments from Massachusetts and New York, the 
advance guard of the legions to follow, were already 
within the waters of Maryland. 

No ; Abraham Lincoln did not take that moment to 
bargain with Secessionists. It is not impossible that these 
gentlemen were deceived by his apparent unconcern. In 
the account given by himself to Baltimore Republicans 
of his interview with the mayor and his friends, he said 
that he told them that he would do all in his power to 
prevent bloodshed, and that the service, for which the 
regiments were called, was expressed in the call itself. 
It was " to repossess the forts, places, and property which 
have been seized from the Union." He said that the 
defence of the capital was first to be provided for, and 
that the routes by which the regiments came were mat- 
ters with which he had nothing to do. They concerned 
General Scott and his subordinates. What he was anx- 
ious about was to have the regiments get here. Vir- 
ginia had now seceded ; it was reported that she would 
close the Potomac River by her batteries. Maryland 
bounded Washington on the north and west. These 
regiments could not fly over her in a balloon or dig un- 
der her by a tunnel. How were they to get here with- 
out crossing Maryland ? Those who objected to the way 
proposed must find some other ! 



124 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

The Baltimore delegation admitted the difficulties. 
They could not remove them, and did not come for that 
purpose. They proposed to relieve themselves from the 
responsibility for bloodshed. The Marylanders were a 
proud and sensitive people ; the sight of these Northern 
invaders was offensive to them. They would not permit 
them to pass through Baltimore, probably not to enter 
the state. They would rise as one man, and defend 
their state from such an invasion ! 

The final answer of the President was that he regret- 
ted such a conclusion, and that he would have to refer 
them to General Scott. He supposed the War Depart- 
ment, like all other departments, was much engaged just 
then in preparing for the defence of the capital against 
the disloyal persons, with whom the people of Maryland 
were apparently in sympathy. But if the condition of 
public opinion in Maryland was accurately represented 
by the committee, he was quite certain that some means 
would be found of informing the people of that state 
that "" there was no piece of American soil too good to 
be pressed by the foot of a loyal soldier on his march to 
the defence of the capital of his country." 

Such was President Lincoln's account of his interviews 
with the mayor of Baltimore and his associates. It dif- 
fers materially from the versions made public by them 
immediately afterwards. It was accepted by the loyal 
friends of the Union. It certainly had the probabilities 
in its favor. 



XX. 

THE FIRST VOLUNTEER DEFENDERS OF THE CAPITAL. THE 
PLUG-UGLIES OF BALTIMORE. THE SEVENTH NEW YORK 
AND THE EIGHTH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENTS. - 

FORT SUMTER fell on Saturday. On Monday, April 
15th, the President called for seventy-five thousand men. 
On Thursday Pennsylvania sent her first regiment into 
"Washington. On Friday, at noon, the Sixth Massachu- 
setts was fighting its way through the Baltimore mob. 
When it reached the capital, all the railroads through 
Maryland were broken, and the state for all practical 
purposes was under Rebel control 

At the hour when the Sixth was fighting the Seces- 
sionist rabble, the Eighth Massachusetts was speeding 
southward to the defence of Washington on an express 
train through New Jersey. A few hours later the Em- 
pire State had sent her choicest regiment, the gallant 
Seventh, one thousand strong, with like speed on the 
same errand. At Philadelphia these regiments learned 
that the railroad bridges had been burned, and that the 
steam ferry-boat, Maryland, the only means of crossing 
the Susquehanna, had been sunk. Ordinary men would 
have gone into camp and awaited the opening of the rail- 
road ; but General Butler pushed on to Havre-de-Grace, 
where he found the Maryland still afloat, and, placing 
his regiment on board, he started for Annapolis. Colonel 
Lefferts chartered the first steamer he could find, the 
Seventh boarded her in Philadelphia, and on Sunday 
morning was on the ocean outside the capes of Dela- 



RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ware. Turning into the capes of Virginia, he sailed up 
the bay, and, hearing that the Potomac was commanded 
by rebel batteries, turned northward, and at dawn on 
Monday dropped anchor in the harbor of Annapolis. 
The Maryland was already there ; but, in towing the old 
Constitution out of danger of rebel seizure, by the treach- 
ery of the pilot she had been run aground with the regi- 
ment on board. After laboring in vain all day to get 
her off, just at evening the regiments were landed, disre- 
garding the protests of the mayor and citizens, that their 
appearance would cause bloodshed, Colonel Lefferts ob- 
serving that, if they were "let alone, they would dis- 
turb nobody." 

The railroad from Annapolis to Annapolis Junction, 
with the main line from Baltimore to Washington, was 
torn up, and many of the rails were carried away and sunk 
in deep water. The locomotives had been dismantled, and 
bodies of rebels were lurking about the vicinity ready to 
attack the regiments if opportunity offered. Massachu- 
setts soldiers reconstructed the engines, placed cannon 
and men to serve them on a platform-car in front, the 
baggage of the two regiments was loaded on cars in the 
rear, and, with the train thus made up, they took up their 
march, rebuilding the railroad as they advanced. Com- 
panies were detailed to forage and cook, for they lived 
on the country. Their progress was slow, but on Thurs- 
day morning they reached Annapolis Junction. Learn- 
ing that a party of twelve or fifteen thousand rebels 
was preparing to attack them, the Massachusetts regi- 
ment remained at the junction to meet them. The 
Seventh New York took a train for Washington, where 
they arrived at noon on Thursday, April 23d, a little 
more than five days after their departure from New 
York. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 

As already mentioned, Baltimore had for some years 
bred a new variety of the human species called the 
" Plug-Ugly " a hybrid of slavery and brutality, first 
developed for political purposes. Its representatives 
had no reason for existence, no visible means of support. 
They were idle, vicious, muscular, sensual brutes, who 
subsisted upon whiskey and crime. They were very bold 
in the presence of the weak, and very cowardly in con- 
tact with brave men. Their numbers had enormously 
multiplied with the growth of secession. Washington 
had caught the overflow, attracted by the hope of pos- 
sible plunder when the rebellion should break out. Its 
postponement had made them hungry and desperate. 
Now that war was inevitable, they thought their time 
had come. They had a rude sort of organization, which 
enabled them to collect in great numbers at a given 
point on short notice. 

To the " Plug-Uglies" was assigned the congenial task 
of burning the bridges, breaking up the railroads, and fall- 
ing upon and destroying the new and inexperienced regi- 
ments on their way to Washington. They professed 
great contempt for the "counter-jumpers" and "kid- 
gloved darlings " who constituted these regiments, and 
regarded their destruction as a pleasant pastime. 

As soon as they knew that communication was to be 
attempted from Annapolis, they selected the junction of 
the branch railroad with the main line as the best place at 
which to fall upon the Yankees. It was central, their 
friends could come by rail from Baltimore and Washing- 
ton, and it was a good point at which to concentrate the 
bands scattered over the state. They arranged to collect 
there a force of fifteen thousand, and widely proclaimed 
that Annapolis Junction was the selected field for the 
destruction of the Northern invaders. 



128 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

So successfully had they spread this proclamation that 
a battle at the junction was regarded as inevitable. It 
would have taken place if General Butler and Colonel 
Lefferts with their regiments could have been persuaded 
to wait a week or ten days longer. But they would not 
wait. These regiments expected to fight that was the 
purpose of their coming. Many messengers had been 
sent from Washington to inform them of the rebel prepa- 
rations. One or two of them escaped capture, and 
brought contradictory advices. Col. Landers, the last, 
brought such an account of the anxiety of General Scott 
for the safety of "Washington, that Colonel Lefferts 
determined to push forward, though he expected to 
meet with a loss of a portion of his men. Annapolis 
Junction had been reached. The Massachusetts regi- 
ment halted there to await the promised attack, and the 
Seventh started for Washington without coming within 
musket-shot of an armed rebel. 

The Eighth Massachusetts, after waiting some hours 
for the attack, came to the Capitol, and were comforta- 
bly quartered under its dome before the Secessionists as 
near as Baltimore could be convinced that they had 
passed the junction. Farther South they refused to 
credit the collapse of the plan so elaborately prepared 
for a victory at Annapolis Junction. A Baltimore paper 
of the 25th published the report, as coming from " three 
or four different sources," " that the Seventh had been 
cut to pieces at Annapolis." "It was probably true, 
but it would be well to wait for further confirmation." 

The papers of Charleston and other cities put no such 
restraint upon their exultation. For some hours they gave 
free rein to their wild delight. They announced in bold 
head -lines, " Glorious news ! The crack regiment of 
New York cut to pieces between Annapolis and Marl- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 129 

boro ! Three times three cheers for the brave Mary- 
landers !" 

While the seceded states were giving this ludicrous 
exhibition of their joy over a victory before the battle 
was fought, I was an eye-witness of a different picture. 
The Seventh New York was marching between two 
mighty waves of cheers from the masses of loyal citi- 
zens which filled the broad streets of the capital. The 
regiment halted near the open space, west of the Na- 
tional Hotel. That space contained the "Washington 
contingent of the species described, which their sympa- 
thizers supposed was at the junction. They had infested 
the streets since the previous February, and were readily 
recognized. For the first time I passed through them 
without insult. They appeared depressed. Sorrow was 
on their faces and blasphemy on their lips. As the 
Seventh halted I stood on a corner and saw that vil- 
lainous multitude melt away. It was their last appear- 
ance, they were visible for the last time. That night 
there was a flight into the Egypt of secession of a most 
unholy family. The species became extinct in Washing- 
ton, and everywhere north of the Potomac excessively 
rare. 

As a frost cuts down the noxious weeds which choke the 
sprouting corn, so did the tread of these two regiments, 
as they landed upon her shores, arrest and deaden the 
rank growth of secession in Maryland. In one week 
from the time of the President's call, they had formed 
the front rank of the great column from the loyal states, 
had burst their way through rebel obstructions, and 
stood almost two thousand strong within the shadow 
of the dome of the Capitol. It was afterwards said that 
the President seemed pleased with their appearance; 
that he was very cordial to them without distinction of 



130 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

rank. Could they have seen him a day or two before, 
when his countenance wore that peculiar expression, I 
think the saddest ever shown upon the face of man, 
they would have more perfectly comprehended his esti- 
mate of the value of their services. 

The citizens of Washington would have made these 
soldiers their guests. They felt hurt because discipline 
required the men to go into camp and sleep under can- 
vas. There was not one instance in which a private of 
either regiment was guilty of the slightest excess or in- 
subordination. They were gentlemen always as well as 
soldiers. They were overwhelmed with civilities and 
comforts, which they divided with less-favored regiments. 
A private of the Seventh lost his life by an accident. The 
whole city mourned his loss, and hundreds sent expres- 
sions of sympathy. Having been selected for the pro- 
tection of the President and to lead the march into Vir- 
ginia, the work of this regiment was accomplished. They 
offered to re-enlist at the expiration of their term of ser- 
vice, but were finally discharged with this statement, that 
"it is the desire of the War Department, in relinquishing 
the services of this gallant regiment, to make known the 
satisfaction that is felt at the prompt and patriotic man- 
ner in which it responded to the call for men to defend 
this capital when it was believed to be in peril, and to 
acknowledge the important service which it rendered 
by appearing here in an hour of dark and trying ne- 
cessity." 

I knew many members of the Seventh personally, and 
saw much of them during their thirty days' service. 
I thought then, and I have never since changed the 
opinion, that, in the succession of stirring events, the 
public attention was so diverted that the regiment failed 
to receive that full measure of appreciation which its 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 



services deserved. The debt which the republic owes 
for its gallant service was largely due to the cool judg- 
ment and splendid, soldierly accomplishments of Marshal 
Lefferts, its colonel and commander. 



XXI. 

THE "TRENT AFFAIR." STATESMANSHIP OF MR. SEWARD. 

IT has been stated already that no attempt would be 
made to arrange these notes as a connected history or 
in chronological order. There were weeks and some- 
times months when great events were happening, but 
when no time could be spared for any but official duties. 
Occasionally it was possible to record memoranda of 
some occurrence of special importance of which I hap- 
pened to have knowledge. One of these was the " Trent 
affair " as it was called, which, because it so clearly illus- 
trates the influence and statesmanship of Secretary Sew- 
ard, I thought worthy of particular notice, and which 
may as well be presented in the present connection. 

The " Trent affair" was an incident of the war which 
furnished the only occasion within my recollection when 
the judgment of a substantial majority of the people 
was reversed by the publication of a single state paper. 

Before the commencement of hostilities there were 
good reasons for anticipating the friendship of Great 
Britain for the loyal North. The relations of that power 
to slavery alone would have furnished a basis for such a 
hope, which was confirmed by the leading English jour- 
nals. The London Times had declared that " the seces- 
sion of states and the formation of a new confederacy are 
events which this journal has always declared to be im- 
possible ;" " that should the clamor of secession, by any 
chance, be carried too far, and the threat, uttered in jest 
or earnest, lead to bloodshed, . . . Mr. Lincoln will in 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 133 

that case command a majority in Congress, and carry 
with him the support of all those who, however tolerant 
of slavery, will not acquiesce in its becoming the basis 
of a hostile and illegal confederacy." The Saturday 
Review had declared that " the dissolution of the Union, 
so far from being hailed as a profitable transaction, will 
be lamented in this country (England). ... It is a truth, 
absolutely certain, that any policy will miscarry which 
assumes that England can be coaxed or bribed into a 
connivance at the extension of slavery." Less influen- 
tial papers teemed with similar articles. 

During the first six months of the war, there was an 
extraordinary change in the sentiments of the English 
people. The Times proclaimed that "there must be 
two federations on no other footing will peace ever be 
made." " In our opinion, the forcible subjugation of the 
South will prove a hopeless task." The Saturday Re- 
view said that it was " the unanimous opinion of nine- 
teen out of twenty educated Englishmen that a more 
hopeless enterprise than the reconquest of the South by 
the Federal government has never been projected by any 
ancient or modern state." " The North is just as fool- 
ish for trying to reconquer the South, as Xerxes was 
when he led half the world against Athens, or as Na- 
poleon was when he led Europe against Kussia." Mr. 
Koebuck regarded "the attempt of the North in en- 
deavoring to restore the Union by force as an immoral 
proceeding, totally incapable of success." And even 
Mr. Gladstone said that " Mr. Jefferson Davis has made 
of the South a nation, and separation is as certain as any 
event, yet future and contingent, can be." 

With this change of opinion had arisen a popular de- 
mand in Great Britain for the recognition of the South- 
ern Confederacy by the great powers of Europe. It was 



134 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

apparent that Great Britain was prepared for such rec- 
ognition whenever France would join her, and that a 
very small excuse would suffice to induce her to act in 
the matter without further delay. There was one inci- 
dent referred to by Mr. Bright in his celebrated speech 
at Rochdale, which almost savored of contempt of the 
North in the British Cabinet. Fully alive to the import- 
ance of amicable relations with Great Britain, the United 
States government had commissioned Mr. Charles Fran- 
cis Adams, one of its first statesmen, as its represen- 
tative at the Court of St. James. On the day of his 
arrival in London, but without waiting for any com- 
munication with him, the British Cabinet published a 
proclamation, intended to prepare the way for a full rec- 
ognition of the Confederacy, and which unmistakably 
evinced the ultimate purpose in that respect of the Brit- 
ish crown. 

The defeat of Bull Run appeared to be hailed in Eng- 
land with delight. It apparently determined the party 
in power to settle the fate of the Union without further 
postponement. From this time, until the final capture 
of the army of General Lee in April, 1865, the possibil- 
ity that the rebellion might be suppressed was scarcely 
admitted in Great Britain. Mr. Bright, and perhaps 
half a dozen others, were the only leading Englishmen 
willing to speak a friendly word for the North, and 
every act of our government was performed under the 
impending danger of a recognition of the Confederacy, 
a disregard of the blockade, and the actual intervention 
of Great Britain in our attempt to suppress an insurrec- 
tion upon our own territory. 

On the 17th of November, 1861, the United States 
steamer San Jacinto arrived at Fortress Monroe with 
Messrs. Mason and Slidell prisoners on board. Captain 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 135 

Wilkes, her commander, immediately reported to the 
Navy Department that, learning that these parties had 
been appointed on some diplomatic mission from the 
Southern Confederacy to Great Britain and France, and 
had run the blockade, reaching Havana from Charleston, 
expecting to depart from the former place on the 7th of 
the month in the English steamer Trent for St. Thomas, 
on their way to England, he had intercepted the Trent, 
in the Bahama Channel, on the 8th of November, about 
two hundred and forty miles from Havana, brought her 
to by firing a shell across her bows, and had forcibly 
captured from her Messrs. Mason and Slidell, with their 
secretaries, and now held them on board his ship in 
Hampton Koads. Detailed reports of all the officers 
concerned in the capture, with the protest of the Con- 
federate envoys, and Captain Wilkes's reply thereto, ac- 
companied the account of the capture. 

On the receipt of this report, Mr. Welles, the Secretary 
of the Navy, congratulated Captain Wilkes, and stated 
that his "conduct in seizing these public enemies was 
marked by intelligence, ability, decision, and firmness, 
and has the emphatic approval of this Department." 
On the first day of the December Session of Congress, 
the House of Eepresentatives passed a resolution, ten- 
dering the thanks of Congress to Captain Wilkes for the 
capture and arrest of Mason and Slidell. 

As soon as the facts reached the State Department, 
which was some time about the first of December, Secre- 
tary Seward addressed a note to the American Minister 
in London, which he was requested to read to Earl Kus- 
sell, stating that the action of Captain Wilkes was with- 
out a/ny instructions from his government, and that he 
trusted that the British government would consider 
the subject in a friendly temper. The first information, 



136 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

therefore, received by Great Britain from our govern- 
ment, after the capture, announced that it was made 
without authority, and declared the willingness of the 
United States to consider the questions which it in- 
volved upon settled principles of international law. 

The first communication from Earl Russell in relation 
to the capture indicated a very different temper. It 
was sent by a special messenger to Lord Lyons, who 
was directed to inform Secretary Seward of its con- 
tents. It declared that the act of Captain Wilkes was 
an aifront to the British flag, and a violation of inter- 
national law. It announced that " the liberation of the 
four gentlemen named and their delivery to your lord- 
ship, together with a suitable apology for the aggression, 
alone would satisfy the British nation." With this de- 
mand came information of the public excitement in 
England upon the first reception of the news of the capt- 
ure, and of the action of the British authorities, which 
appeared to indicate their purpose to force the two coun- 
tries into a war. 

As soon as the telegram announcing the boarding of 
the Trent by a Federal vessel of war was received in 
Liverpool, a placard was posted on the Exchange an- 
nouncing the "outrage on the British flag," and calling 
a public meeting. This meeting was presided over by 
Mr. James Spence, who, upon taking the chair, read a 
resolution calling upon the government to assert the 
dignity of the British flag by requiring prompt repara- 
tion for this outrage. The resolution offered by Mr. 
Spence was carried by a tremendous majority. 

The English Cabinet took its cue from the Liverpool 
meeting. Knowing that the capture was the unauthor- 
ized act of Captain "Wilkes, and that precedents were 
not wanting of similar acts committed by British offi- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 137 

cers, and defended as lawful by the British government, 
the first act of Earl Kussell was to despatch the per- 
emptory demand referred to. It was afterwards known 
that the demand was first framed in language so offen- 
sive that our government would have been compelled to 
reject it on that account, and that its terms were greatly 
moderated by the intervention of the amiable husband 
of the queen. The last note ever written by the prince 
consort was the one suggesting a modification of the 
peremptory character of the British demand, and ex- 
pressing the hope that Captain Wilkes had acted with- 
out instructions, or that, if he had instructions, that he 
misapprehended them. An intimation from so high a 
quarter could not be disregarded, and the despatch was 
modified as Prince Albert suggested. His death oc- 
curred only a few days later. For this noble act of 
friendship he deserved the gratitude of all loyal Ameri- 
cans. 

Before the messenger intrusted with Earl Eussell's 
letter had left her shores, the ports of the United King- 
dom resounded with preparations for war. Steam trans- 
ports were chartered, a large number of troops ordered 
to Canada, the Guards were directed to prepare for im- 
mediate, active service, all the saltpetre in the British 
islands was seized, and every possible preparation made 
to attack us with the whole naval and military force of 
the empire the instant the demand of Earl Kussell was 
refused. The press wrought itself up to fury. It in- 
sisted that Captain Wilkes and Lieutenant Fairfax must 
be reprimanded and dismissed from the United States 
Navy ; the rebel envoys delivered up ; atonement must 
be made for the shot and shell fired, without notice, at 
a steamer conveying the royal mail, and in the words of 
the Morning Chronicle, Congress " must sit down, like 



138 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ancient Pistol, to eat the leek it had insultingly brand- 
ished in British faces !" 

At the same time, all the Confederate sympathizers 
in the North were seized with a violent attack of pa- 
triotic indignation. With one voice they declared that 
the insult offered by England was mortal, and that even 
the moderate measure of self-respect which the Lincoln 
Cabinet was supposed to possess required the rejection 
of the British demand in equally insulting terms. Many 
newspapers of similar tendencies added fuel to the 
flames. Clement L. Yallandigham, on the 20th of De- 
cember, 1861, introduced in the House of Representa- 
tives a resolution which recited the capture of the 
envoys, who were conspirators, rebel enemies, and dan- 
gerous men, for which Captain Wilkes had received the 
approval of the Navy Department, and the thanks of 
Congress, with mention of the request made to the Presi- 
dent by the House of Representatives, that he should 
confine Mason and Slidell in the cells of convicted felons, 
until certain military officers of the United States should 
be treated as prisoners of war, and then resolved that 
it was the duty of the President firmly to maintain the 
stand thus taken, approving and adopting the act of Cap- 
tain Wilkes, in spite of any menace or demand of the 
British government, and pledging to him the support of 
the House in thus upholding the honor and vindicating 
the course of the government and people of the United 
States against a foreign power. This resolution was re- 
ferred, without debate, ,to the Committee of Foreign 
Affairs. 

It must not be forgotten that over and over again Great 
Britain had exercised the right which she now denied to 
us. The London Times afterwards declared that "un- 
welcome as the truth may be, it is nevertheless a truth, 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 139 

that we (Great Britain) have ourselves established a sys- 
tem of international law which now tells against us." 
The Saturday Review, a fierce Tory sheet, said that " it 
must in fairness be admitted that the outrage was not so 
glaringly in excess of belligerent rights as to be recog- 
nized in its true character until after a careful study of 
precedents and legal authorities." Professor Newman, 
one of the highest of British authorities in international 
law, stated that the liberties taken by English ships 
against the Americans, in the war with Napoleon, were 
as like the act of Captain Wilkes as two peas, in a moral 
point of view, and that Great Britain would have to pull 
the beam out of her own eye before instituting a search 
after the mote in her neighbor's. In fact, the proof was 
abundant that for the last one hundred years that power 
had always exercised this right, especially against weaker 
nations. 

It is also undeniable that this demand of England 
stirred to its depths the indignation of many patriotic 
citizens of the loyal states. The United States had upon 
its hands the most gigantic rebellion the world had ever 
seen ; it had met with disasters in the field ; every re- 
source was being employed in raising and equipping 
another army ; the leaders of opinion in Great Britain 
almost unanimously predicted defeat, and spoke of the 
enterprise "to restore a defunct Union" as "altogether 
hopeless." The demand of the English premier under 
these circumstances must have been intended to deliver 
us an insult which we could not resent, or, if we would 
not endure the humiliation, which would drive our peo- 
ple into a war, and so give Great Britain what she so 
much desired, a pretext for joining hands with the South 
and disrupting the Union. In either aspect, the act was 
discreditable to a nation in which loyalty to the rules of 



140 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

fair fighting has always been supposed to be as universal 
as loyalty to its sovereign. 

The two countries were saved from a war which could 
have had none but evil consequences by the good sense 
of President Lincoln and of two statesmen, their respec- 
tive representatives Lord Lyons and William H. Sew- 
ard. Lord Lyons was a model Englishman. His sub- 
stantial frame and broad shoulders furnished a suitable 
support to a head well provided with solid sense. An 
open face and clear blue eyes indicated the sincere and 
generous character of the man, and his contempt for 
falsehood and meanness. He would have been accepted 
as an umpire by any contestant who relied upon justice 
and merit alone. He had the traditional love of the 
Anglo-Saxon for fair play. He thoroughly understood 
the controversy between North and South, and knew 
that upon its issue depended the supremacy in the re- 
public of freedom or slavery. His sympathies were 
heartily with the North ; but he was, at the same time, 
a faithful representative of his own nation, and watch- 
ful in the protection of her interests. 

"We have no special information as to what passed be- 
tween the English ambassador and Secretary Seward in 
their private interviews. But comparing events with 
the character of the men, we may pretty safely assume 
that the reading of Earl Russell's pronunciamento did 
not disturb the equanimity of either. Probably, after 
knocking the ashes from his cigar, Lord Lyons observed, 
"You will give up the men, Seward, of course! As 
prisoners, they may be of consequence enough to cause 
a war ; set free, they are no good to anybody. You did 
not authorize their capture ; their surrender involves no 
dishonor. Say yes, and you may deliver them up at 
your own time, and in your own way." 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 

" Your lordship is perfectly right," Secretary Seward 
probably said. "Your views are such as we had the 
right to anticipate from your justice, and your knowl- 
edge of the facts. We don't want these people. You 
know, and I am surprised that it did not occur to Earl 
Russell, that we could not retain them against his de- 
mand, without repudiating the principles for which we 
once went to war, and which we have maintained for 
half a century. I think I take no risk in asking your 
friendly co-operation. Our people will be excited by all 
this unnecessary parade of preparation, and the impera- 
tive tenor of Earl Russell's demand. We have mischief- 
makers among us who will try to arouse opposition to 
the surrender, especially if it is made the occasion of dis- 
play in one of our larger ports, or to one of your large 
vessels. Suppose you name some quiet harbor on the 
coast of New England, into which you can safely send 
a fourth -class vessel, as the place of delivery. I will 
send the prisoners there; you can have them quietly 
taken on board and sent on their way." 

Possibly a smile spread over the face of the noble lord 
as he appreciated the full import of the secretary's sug- 
gestion. I had it from good authority, at the time, that 
he declared his complete indifference as to the time and 
place of surrender, and said that it was all the same to 
him whether it was made in New York Bay, or in the 
harbor of a fishing village on Cape Cod. In fact, it im- 
pressed him as a duty to conform to the wishes of the 
secretary in the matter of the surrender. The only 
other point upon which the secretary insisted was that 
the despatch of Earl Russell dealt with questions of such 
grave international importance as to render a hasty an- 
swer highly improper, and he might find it necessary to 
take all the time consistent with diplomatic usages to 



142 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

frame a suitable reply. This was also assented to ; the 
representatives of the two countries had come to a per- 
fect understanding, and they separated on the best of 
terms. In fact, the answer of Mr. Seward was shown 
to Lord Lyons within twenty-four hours, although it 
was not made public until the 27th of December. 

The general excitement increased with every hour's 
delay. England seized upon the excuse for war. Her gov- 
ernment spared no pains to proclaim its warlike purposes. 
Tory and Liberal coalesced; Lord Derby was consulted 
by the government, and hastened to its support. He 
suggested to ship-owners to instruct the captains of out- 
ward-bound ships to signal to any English vessels they 
might meet that war was extremely probable, and the 
underwriters approved the statesmanlike suggestion. 
Discussion of the affair had been prevented in Congress, 
but British threats and warlike preparations so clearly 
showed a purpose to bully our government into submis- 
sion that the North became a unit against the surrender 
of the envoys. Had any greater delay intervened it would 
probably have been resisted by force. The sun of De- 
cember 26th set, and the night closed in over a danger- 
ously angry people. 

On the morning of December 27th the clouds had all 
disappeared, and the political horizon to the eastward 
was quiet and serene. Mr. Seward had poured upon the 
angry waves of popular excitement the calming oil of 
his answer to Earl Russell's demand, and straightway 
the tempest was stilled. At considerable length, with 
the impartiality of a judicial opinion, the secretary 
summed up the facts of the capture as given by the 
British premier, slightly modified by the report of Cap- 
tain "Wilkes, and then set forth the demand, divested of 
its imperative or disagreeable features. He then added 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 143 

" some facts which doubtless were omitted by Earl Kus- 
sell, with the very proper and becoming motive of allow- 
ing them to be brought into the case on the part of the 
United States," and concluded by saying that, accord- 
ing to the law of nations, the capture in this case was 
left unfinished or was abandoned that while Great 
Britain might waive the defect, if, on the contrary, she 
insists upon it, the United States have no right to retain 
the captured persons, the chief benefits of the capture, 
by proving them contraband. On the contrary, the vol- 
untary release of the Trent must be permitted to draw 
after it all its legal consequences. Having thus shown, 
as the secretary trusted he had done, " by a very simple 
and natural statement of the facts, and an analysis of 
the law applicable to them, that this government has 
neither meditated, nor practised, nor approved, any de- 
liberate wrong in the transaction to which they have 
called its attention, it necessarily followed that what has 
happened has been simply an inadvertency, consisting in 
a departure by a naval officer, free from any wrongful 
motive, from a rule uncertainly established, and prob- 
ably by the several parties concerned either imperfectly 
understood or entirely unknown. For this error the 
British government has a right to expect the same rep- 
aration that we, as an independent state, should expect 
from Great Britain, or from any other friendly nation 
in a similar case." 

" Nor have I been tempted at all," he continued, " by 
suggestions that cases might be found in history where 
Great Britain refused to yield to other nations, and even 
to ourselves, claims like that which is now before us. 
Those cases occurred when Great Britain, as well as the 
United States, was the home of generations which, with 
all their peculiar interests and passions, have passed 



144 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

away. She could in no other way so effectually dis- 
avow any such injury, as we think she does by assum- 
ing now as her own the ground upon which we then 
stood. . . . 

" The four persons in question are now held in military 
custody at Fort "Warren, in the State of Massachusetts. 
They will be cheerfully liberated. Your lordship will 
please indicate a time and place for receiving them." 

In a second despatch to Lord Lyons, dated on the same 
30th of November, and received by Lord Lyons on the 
18th of December, not intended to be read to Mr. Sew- 
ard, the British ambassador had been directed thus: 
" Should Mr. Seward ask for delay . . . you will consent 
to a delay not exceeding seven days. If, at the end of 
that time, no answer is given, or if any other answer is 
given except that of compliance with the demands of 
her majesty's government, your lordship is instructed 
to leave Washington, with all the members of your lega- 
tion, and to repair immediately to London." Lord Ly- 
ons was also directed to communicate Mr. Seward's an- 
swer to Yice-admiral Sir A. Milne, and to the governors 
of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Jamaica, Ber- 
muda, and such other of her majesty's possessions as 
might be within his reach. 

Mr. Seward's letter went to its mark with the force 
and directness of a pointed projectile from one of Sir 
William Armstrong's steel guns. A war with Great 
Britain in defence of the act of Captain Wilkes would 
have been a war resulting from the direct opposite of 
the cause for which we waged against the same power 
the war of 1812. It, therefore, logically followed that 
the menaces, the elaborate preparations to strike us 
when we could not return the blow, and the wrath and 
anger of the British lion, all were founded upon a sud- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 145 

den and complete abandonment, without notice, of the 
principles of international law, for which Great Britain 
had always contended, and to which we intended to re- 
main loyal. Without comment or objection, Mr. Sew- 
ard left to her whatever of honor or credit such conduct 
might gain, but his recommendation to his own country 
was the pursuit of its own policy without variableness or 
shadow of turning. 

Contemporaneously with Mr. Seward's letter, sugges- 
tions were published which might have had the same 
origin. Attention was called .to the fact that, to decline 
the surrender of the prisoners, and so make them a casus 
belli, would enable them to pose in the character of mar- 
tyrs, and give them an importance which they could not 
otherwise secure. But, if they were surrendered, they 
would drop into obscurity as soon as their admirers dis- 
covered that no profit was to be made from them, and 
not be heard of again. This prediction was completely 
verified. 

From the publication of Mr. Seward's letter there was 
no objection heard in the loyal states to its reasoning or 
its conclusions. Citizens saw its wisdom; some of the 
newspapers which had been most earnest against the 
surrender of the envoys hastened to retract their error, 
and range themselves on the side of the secretary and 
the country. The Confederate sympathizers saw that 
the current of opinion was too strong to be stemmed, 
and stood dumb. The course of the English press was 
as singular as before the demand. It would have been 
scarcely decent not to show some satisfaction at the re- 
moval of such threatening differences between the two 
countries, and two or three of the leading journals 
promptly recognized the statesmanship of Secretary 
Seward and the value of the influence of Lord Lyons. 

10 



146 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

The London Times, the Saturday Review, and other 
sheets hostile to the North, attributed the surrender of 
the prisoners to American cowardice and fear. Their 
success was not encouraging. They were noticed only 
to be ridiculed, and very soon subsided into a mortified 
silence, occasionally broken by grumbling denials of our 
successes in the field. The feeling of sympathy with 
the South and hostility to the North continued to exist 
in many British minds, but it was more cautious in its 
manifestations, and never again had such an opportu- 
nity for development as it found in the case of the 
Trent. Not many months afterwards France kindly 
offered her mediation between the American belliger- 
ents, but was promptly informed by Mr. Seward that 
no war between belligerents, but only an armed insur- 
rection, existed, which the United States was vigorously 
and triumphantly putting down ; that we were obliged 
to our ancient ally for her good intentions, but as for 
her mediation, or that of any other power, we would 
have none of it. After this the powers of Europe left 
us to settle our own controversies in our own way. 

It was found convenient for Lord Lyons to send a 
small English steamer to the quiet harbor of Province- 
town, on the Massachusetts coast, where our government 
undertook to deliver the prisoners, previously confined 
at Fort Warren, near Boston. The season and the cir- 
cumstances subjected them to some inconveniences. Our 
larger steamers were all on duty, and it was therefore 
necessary to send the envoys from Fort Warren on board 
a tug, not provided with passenger accommodations. 
They were sent in charge of Mr. Webster, a subordinate 
in the State Department. From him I learned that the 
weather was unusually tempestuous, even for December ; 
that, in fact, the trip was made in a furious northeast gale. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 147 

The prisoners were not good sailors ; the tug rolled and 
pitched fearfully, so that the unfortunate envoys were 
extremely sea-sick all the way to the rendezvous. There 
were times when he feared he would be unable to deliver 
them, for they claimed vehemently that life, under such 
disagreeable conditions, was undesirable. But, notwith- 
standing the difficulties, they succeeded at last in mak- 
ing the harbor; the prisoners were delivered into the 
charge of the British ship, which they declared was no 
better than the tug, and altogether unfit for diplomatic 
service. This spirit of captiousness was annoying to the 
officers of the ship, who maintained that a vessel which 
served as the home of officers of the Royal Navy was 
good enough for Confederate prisoners. Their voyage 
across the Atlantic did not begin under favorable aus- 
pices, but was finally accomplished, and thus closed this 
much-talked-of incident in American history. As the 
secretary had predicted, the mission of the envoys to the 
great powers of Europe was a failure, and their proceed- 
ings never afterwards disturbed our peace. 

President Lincoln's views upon the "Trent affair" 
were promptly expressed with his customary common- 
sense and brevity. As soon as the capture was reported, 
he said that " it did not look right for Captain WUkes 
to stop the vessel of a friendly power on the high seas, 
and take out of her, by force, passengers who went on 
board in one neutral port to be carried to another. And 
if it was, he did not understand whence Captain Wilkes 
got the authority to turn his own quarter-deck into a 
court of admiralty." With the people, it is not improb- 
able that this plain, forcible view was as convincing as 
the able legal argument of Mr. Seward. 

After Mr. Seward's death, Mr. Gideon "Welles, Mr. 
Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy, published several mag- 






148 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

azine articles, afterwards collected in a volume, in which 
he claimed that Mr. Seward at first opposed, and only 
consented to the surrender of the prisoners when he was 
overruled by the President and a majority of the Cabinet, 
and consequently was entitled to no credit in the premises. 
It is unpleasant to take issue with Mr. Welles, but the first 
despatch to Mr. Adams, to which I have referred, shows 
Mr. Seward's position ; and I know that his opinion was 
unchanged from the first report of the capture to the 
surrender. 



XXII. 

THE ANTAGONISM OF THE REGULAR TO THE VOLUNTEER SER- 
VICE. THE INFLUENCE OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN. 

THE events of the War of the Kebellion followed each 
other in such rapid succession that there was no time for 
contemporary examination of their relative importance. 
Those who were then in the public service will remem- 
ber how, before one occurrence could be dealt with, an- 
other pressed upon their attention, so that any event 
outside the line of their duties necessarily passed with- 
out particular observation. As the general picture of 
those terrible years recedes into the past, some of its 
points, before unnoticed, rise into prominence. There 
were several such incidents which attracted slight atten- 
tion while the war was in progress, which, regarded from 
a later standpoint, singularly illustrate the powerful in- 
fluence for the maintenance of the Union, always exerted 
by the strong, native common-sense of Abraham Lincoln. 

The heads of bureaus and of divisions in the bureaus 
seldom changed with the administration before the year 
1864. In the spring of 1861 these positions in the War 
and Navy Departments were filled by officers of those 
services, usually more than sixty years of age. They 
had had but little experience in war. Such as they had 
was restricted to the war with Mexico, in which the 
fighting was wholly on land and in another country, be- 
sides a few local contests with the Indian tribes. There 
had been no fighting in the navy since 1815. It was the 
fact, however, that officers whose names were scarcely 



150 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

known to the country were at the head of these bureaus 
at the beginning of the War of the Rebellion, and con- 
trolled the subjects of arms, munitions, equipment, cloth- 
ing, medicine and surgery, hospitals, the construction of 
vessels, steam-machinery, and engineering ; in short, the 
administration of all the military and naval resources of 
the nation. In these bureaus everything was provided 
for by " regulations." An application made to the sec- 
retary for the introduction of any new arm, invention, or 
proposed improvement was by rule referred to the bu- 
reau with which it was connected for a report. All the 
traditions of these bureaus assumed that their respective 
regulations were perfect, that all known sources of in- 
formation respecting them were to be there found, and 
that any change for the better was impossible. Add to 
these traditions contempt for popular ideas as crude and 
impracticable, and it is obvious that the accomplishment 
of any change in the theory or practice of one of these 
departments was a work to be accomplished, if at all, 
only by great perseverance and patience. 

At the commencement of the war, except a small num- 
ber of Colt's revolvers for the cavalry, there was not a 
breech-loading gun in the service. The old smooth-bore 
musket of the Revolution, modified by a few changes 
made in the armories of the United States, was the arm 
of the infantry. When the first call for seventy-five 
thousand men was made, it became necessary to pur- 
chase guns for their use. A large number of muskets, 
which Belgium had discarded for an improved weapon, 
had been sent over to New York city, where they were 
offered to the Government at a very low price about 
three dollars each. As these afforded an economical 
means of arming the Volunteer Infantry at a small ex- 
pense, they were promptly purchased, and issued to the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 

regiments first mustered into service. Complaint of them 
was general. Men who were accustomed to handle the 
rifle declared that the least dangerous point of their 
effective field was in front of their muzzles. 

The First Vermont Kegiment was one of the earliest 
regiments mustered into service after the call. It com- 
prised several uniformed companies, drilled and disci- 
plined, in which were to be found merchants, manufact- 
urers in short, the very best native Yermonters. Its 
colonel (Phelps) had been educated at West Point ; after 
long and gallant service in the regular army he had re- 
signed, leaving a most creditable record. Governor Fair- 
banks, who was aware that the personnel of the regiment 
was well known to me, sent one of his aides to say that it 
was rumored that the regiment was to be armed with 
the Belgian muskets ; that Colonel Phelps was of opin- 
ion that they were unfit for use ; that the government 
had new Enfield rifles, then on shipboard in the harbor 
of New York, of which the First Yermont would make 
as good use as any other regiment ; that he respectfully 
requested the delivery of one thousand of these rifles to 
the regiment ; that if this request could not be complied 
with, the state preferred to purchase good arms for the 
regiment if the Secretary of War would authorize him 
to do so. He added that immediate action was neces- 
sary, as the regiment would arrive in New York city on 
the following day. 

Taking a personal interest in the regiment, and desir- 
ing to promote the object of Governor Fairbanks, I im- 
mediately laid the facts before Secretary Cameron, who 
referred me to Colonel Thomas A. Scott, then the Assist- 
ant Secretary of War. Colonel Scott said that I must 
know that such a request was required by the regula- 
tions to be made in writing to the secretary, who must 



152 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

have a report upon it from the proper bureau, before he 
could either grant or reject it, adding that an officer of 
one department ought not to request an official of an- 
other to violate its rules. I replied that I would have 
taken the usual course if I had wished to have Governor 
Fairbanks's request denied, as applications from civilians 
invariably were, but that, as I wanted the rifles, I had ap- 
plied to those who had the power and sometimes the wijJL 
to grant such requests ; and that, moreover, I had no 
time to waste in applications which we both knew would 
be refused. Finding that I was rather persistent, Colonel 
Scott finally said that the application must be made 
to the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, but if he re- 
fused it I might return, and he would see what could be 
done ! I told him that I would go through the formal- 
ity if I must, but that I should certainly return within 
half an hour. 

I found the Chief of the Ordnance hedged in by more 
successive guards than the Secretary of War. Disre- 
garding their remonstrances, I went directly to the chief 
official, apologizing that my own duties prevented me 
from giving time to the usual formalities of his ap- 
proach. I found an elderly gentleman, who would never 
see seventy again, with very white hair and a very red 
face. I replied to his inquiry, " What I wanted," in the 
fewest possible words : " An order from the War De- 
partment on the proper office in New York, to deliver 
one thousand Enfield rifles to the governor for the use 
of the First Vermont Regiment." The scarlet hue of 
his face deepened into crimson, as he exclaimed : " Such 
an application was never heard of ! Why was it not 
made regularly through the Secretary of War ?" " Be- 
cause there was no time," I was about to say, when he 
fiercely continued : " It is too late. The guns for that 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 153 

regiment have been issued and the orders signed. They 
will not now be changed." 

" I supposed the order had been issued," I said, " and 
that it was to arm the regiment with the Belgian mus- 
kets. It is that order which I wish to have changed. I 
know that the Department has Enfield rifles ; the Yer- 
monters want them. The emergency is pressing, and I 
cannot waste any time in mere formalities. I have come 
to you at the request of Colonel Scott, who, I under- 
stood, was your superior officer. I assured him that my 
application to this bureau would be unavailing ; but the 
Vermonters must have the rifles. If I cannot get the 
order for them here or elsewhere, I must go to the Pres- 
ident." 

The shock of the intimation that an order of his bu- 
reau, once signed, could be recalled, or of the proposition 
to ask the President to overrule it, appeared for a mo- 
ment to arrest the action of his organs of speech, or I am 
certain he would not have listened to so long a state- 
ment. His face and hands turned to a dark purple, as 
his words vainly struggled for expression. He bounded 
from his chair and made a rush, which I thought was in- 
tended for my person. But the impetus carried him by 
me to a corner of the room, where stood a musket of the 
old Springfield pattern, the stock of which was held to 
the barrel by the well-known iron-bands. Except that 
it had a percussion lock, it was the identical arm which 
frightened the crows from the cornfields in my boyhood. 
This gun he seized with both hands, raised it above his 
head, and shook it furiously. He had gained command 
of his voice now, for he roared, rather than exclaimed : 
" These volunteers don't know what they want ! There 
is the best arm that was ever put into the hands of a raw 
volunteer ! "When he throws that away, as they gener- 



154 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ally do, he does not throw away twenty-five dollars' 
worth of government property !" 

I remarked that the Vermonters had no use for guns 
to be thrown away, and retired. Returning to Colonel 
Scott, I related my experience, and obtained the order 
for the rifles without further difficulty. The fact that 
President Lincoln could be reached in this case was con- 
trolling. But for that the First Yermont would have 
carried Belgian muskets through their nine months' 
campaign. 

I had taken note of the excited bureau-chief's remark, 
that "the First Yermont had already got its orders." 
This might mean that they had been ordered to some 
disagreeable post, when I knew that they preferred ac- 
tive service. I therefore, before leaving the department, 
determined to call on General Scott, and see whether I 
could not influence the destination of the regiment. I 
obtained access to him without any delay. The gallant 
old hero of Lundy's Lane at once recognized the name 
of Colonel Phelps, and said : " Write to Colonel Phelps 
that I have not forgotten him ; your request in behalf 
of his regiment shall be attended to." As I was taking 
my leave Colonel Townsend requested me to wait a few 
moments in his office. He was one of the aides of the 
Commander of the Army. His consultation with Gen- 
eral Scott occupied but a few moments. He then came 
to me in his own room, and said : " I cannot inform you 
where the regiment of Colonel Phelps will be sent. He 
will receive his orders to-morrow in New York, and he 
will be quite satisfied with them." The regiment was 
ordered to Fortress Monroe, the post which Colonel 
Phelps would himself have selected. 

In this instance the accessibility of the President and 
the use of his name sufficed to overcome the hard-shelled 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 155 

formalities of the War Office. In other instances that 
Department resisted every influence but the active inter- 
vention of Mr. Lincoln's common-sense. The next expe- 
rience in attempting to introduce a change was with the 
bureau of the Surgeon-General of the Army. 

If seventy-five thousand volunteers were suddenly 
called into active service in the swamps and marshes of 
the South, subject to the diseases incidental to constant 
exposure in a new climate, together with the casualties 
of battle, it was obvious to everybody except the Sur- 
geon-General that the ordinary resources at his com- 
mand would be wholly inadequate to preserve their 
health or secure their comfort. The recent experiences 
of European nations in war, which had availed them- 
selves to the fullest extent of the assistance of private 
organizations to supplement the deficiencies of a better 
service than our own, had demonstrated the great value 
of such organizations, if any proof had been needed. As 
if by a common impulse, the charitable and benevolent 
of all the loyal states contributed large sums of money, 
and organized that magnificent charity, now well-known 
in history by its excellent work in saving lives, the Sani- 
tary Commission. Dr. Bellows, of New York, accompa- 
nied by equally eminent citizens from other large cities, 
proceeded to Washington, and tendered their organiza- 
tion, with its abundant resources and supplies already 
accumulated, to the War Department for the use of the 
army. In the regular course of such human events their 
offer was referred to the bureau of the Surgeon-General 
of the Army. To their surprise and confusion, their offer 
was rejected with undisguised contempt. They were 
told, in substance, that they were interfering with mat- 
ters which did not concern them, about which they knew 
nothing ; that the Department was able to perform its 



156 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

own duties, and wanted none of their assistance. In 
short, they were, figuratively, turned out of the office 
and told to go home and attend to their own affairs, for 
their volunteered assistance was an annoyance, the repe- 
tition of which would not be tolerated. 

The indignant mortification of these eminent citizens 
may be imagined. They had previously supposed them- 
selves engaged in an honorable public service they were 
told now that they were impertinent intermeddlers with 
matters beyond their sphere. Upon one conclusion they 
were agreed : they would shake the dust of the War 
Office from their feet, go home, and supply their com- 
forts directly to the soldiers, without the endorsement 
or intervention of the fossils of that department. 

They were about to depart from the capital, when 
some happy thought or fortunate suggestion turned 
their minds to Abraham Lincoln. They called upon him 
and related their experience. He " sent for" the Surgeon- 
General. A request for his immediate attendance at the 
Executive Mansion was one which even that exalted of- 
ficial did not think it prudent to decline. " These gen- 
tlemen tell me," said the President, "that they have 
raised a large amount of money, and organized a parent 
and many subordinate societies throughout the loyal 
states to provide the soldier with comforts, with mate- 
rials to preserve his health, to shelter him, to cure his 
wounds and diseases, which the regulations of the "War 
Department do not permit your office to supply that 
they offer to do all this without cost to the government 
or any interference with the action of your department 
or the good order and discipline of the army, and that 
you have declined this offer. With my limited informa- 
tion I should suppose that this government would wish 
to avail itself of every such offer that was made. I wish 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 157 

to have you tell me why you have rejected the proposals 
of these gentlemen ?" 

Had the President realized the cruelty of confronting 
an old bureau officer of the War Department, encrusted 
with all the traditions of " how-not-to-do-it," suddenly 
and without previous opportunity to frame an excuse, 
with the hard, inflexible sense of such a question, he 
would have been more merciful. The officer was con- 
founded. He could only mumble some indefinite ob- 
jections to outside interference with the management of 
the War Office, and claim that the Department could 
take care of its own sick and wounded in short, his at- 
tempts at excuse were failures. " If that is all you can 
say," remarked the President, " I think you will have to 
accept the offer, and co-operate to the extent of your 
ability with these gentlemen in securing its benefits to 
the army." Bureaucracy struggled against common- 
sense no longer. The Sanitary Commission was the 
greatest, the most active charity of the war. Tens of 
thousands of saved lives, of naked men clothed, of 
wounded men sheltered and made comfortable, had good 
reason to bless the name of Abraham Lincoln, whose 
common-sense secured for them the benefits of such an 
invaluable organization. 



XXIII. 

THE COLORED PEOPLE. THEIR INDUSTRY IN LEARNING TO 
READ. THEIR IMPLICIT CONFIDENCE IN PRESIDENT LIN- 
COLN. 

I HAD some opportunities, particularly during the first 
few months of my residence in Washington, of observ- 
ing the influence upon the colored race of their pros- 
pective emancipation, which were very interesting at 
the time. I transcribe from my journals some of the 
notes which I thought were worthy of preservation. 

In the first month of my official life, an old resident 
and former official of the city, Ex-Mayor Wallach, called 
to ask me to appoint a colored man as a laborer in the 
register's office. He was a slave, whose master was a 
Virginia Secessionist ; he was out of employment, and in 
absolute want. Mr. Wallach recommended him highly, 
saying that, besides making himself useful in the office, 
he was perfectly competent to assist, if any one wished 
to entertain dinner or other company, by taking charge 
of the entire affair making provision for, cooking, 
and serving a dinner to the satisfaction of the most 
exacting. Besides, he was thoroughly honest, for the 
ex-mayor and his friends had employed and trusted him 
for many years. In view of so high a recommendation, 
I promised to give him a trial. His name, Mr. Wallach 
said, was Walker Lewis. 

The next morning Lewis called upon me. He was 
about forty years of age, and, except for his color, 
had few of the characteristics of the negro. He was 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 159 

erect, rather slim, with a face and lips which would not 
have discredited any white man. He was neatly dressed, 
and in manner and conversation a gentleman. I addressed 
a few inquiries to him, and by degrees drew from him 
the history of his life. From boyhood his master had 
hired him out as a servant at hotels and watering-places. 
He had been for many seasons at the White Sulphur 
Springs and Old Point Comfort, and during the sessions 
of Congress he had been employed by one of the Wash- 
ington hotels patronized by Southerners. He had been 
married once, when quite young, but his family had 
become separated, and he never expected to see them 
again. Asked if his master allowed him to have any 
part of his wages, he replied no, that he had to pay 
to him not only his wages, but all the gratuities which 
gentlemen gave him. He was acquainted with many 
leading Southern statesmen, and had served some of 
them. He had been steward for President Tyler and 
several others. When I asked him what his last em- 
ployment had been, he answered, without the slight- 
est hesitation, that he had been the steward of Major 

H 's gambling-house, until the war broke out, when, 

all the gentlemen having gone South, business was dull, 
and the house had been closed. He was, therefore, out 
of employment, had no money, and, if I would give him 
a place, he would serve me very faithfully. 

" But, Lewis," I said, " if I secure you a place in the 
Treasury, your work would be carrying money, bonds, 
and securities, in large amounts, from one room or office 
to another. Do you think it would be safe to put a man 
in such a position whose last employment was in a gam- 
bling-house ?" 

An expression passed over his face that touched me. 
It was pitiful. His voice trembled, and his eyes filled 



160 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

with tears as he said, " I wish you would only try me, 
master ! 1 never gambled ; I never drink liquor ; I don't 
think I am any worse for working in a gambling-house. 
If I had had any choice about it, it might have been dif- 
ferent. But I never had any choice of employment in 
my life. I have had to go where my master hired me 
out, and do what I was told to do. Seems a little hard, 
master, that I can't have one trial !" 

" It is hard, Lewis !" I said, " and you shall have one 
trial. Come here to-morrow, and your name shall be 
placed on the roll. But the first time you go wrong 
you will probably go to prison ; and you must drop that 
word 'master,' which you have used so many times. 
Every man in this bureau who does his duty and obeys 
the rules is his own master, and will have no other." 

" But, master," he exclaimed, " I can't help it. I kind 
of forget myself. I was never spoken to so before. No! 
no white man ever treated me like you do. I should 
like to call you master. Seems like I must do some- 
thing to show you how grateful I am." 

Lewis's name was borne on the pay-roll of the register's 
office for many years after I left it ; until, indeed, his hair 
was white, and he had accumulated a modest competence. 
He married, and became in time one of the leading citi- 
zens of his race in Washington. When I left the Treasury 
I was of the opinion that, in the three or four past years, 
Lewis had handled more money and securities than any 
other person in that department or outside of it. He 
was a model of industry, gratitude, and integrity. I 
never could break him of the use of the word " master." 

Long after his appointment I noticed that, whenever 
I met Lewis in one of the halls of the Treasury, he would 
invariably cross over to the other side, and pass me as 
far away as possible. This was so often repeated that I 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 161 

saw it was intentional, and I insisted upon an explana- 
tion. I said thai his conduct indicated that he was afraid 
of me. 

" Oh, no, master," he exclaimed, " I am not afraid of 
you, the best friend I ever had ! I will tell you about 
it. If I lost one of these bundles, or anybody got one 
away from me, I would be ruined ; you would think I 
was dishonest. When I first began to carry money, I 
said to myself, ' Now, if I never let anybody get within 
ten feet of me when I am carrying a Treasury bundle, 
I will be sure that nobody gets that bundle.' So I just 
made a little rule, only for myself, you see, and it is this : 
'Walker, when you have a Treasury bundle in your 
hands, never let anybody, not your best friend, not the 
register, come within ten feet of you, until you have put 
that bundle where it belongs !' " 

It would have been to the profit of many treasuries 
if other messengers had adopted the Walker Lewis rule. 

There was, at the corner of Eleventh and K Streets, a 
colored church, the oldest, I believe, in Washington. I 
passed it every day on my way to the Treasury, and fre- 
quently attended its meetings. At first, minister and 
members were reserved in my presence, and I saw little 
which might not have taken place in the churches of 
Drs. Gurley and Sunderland. But on one occasion it was 
my fortune to listen to a plain discussion of my charac- 
ter and relations to the colored race, which ended in an 
expression of confidence, and a conclusion that, since I had 
recommended colored men to office, and was the friend 
of Massa Linkum, there was no reason why I should not 
be admitted to their most secret councils. Afterwards 
their services were conducted without any apparent no- 
tice of my presence. 

Meetings were held in this church almost every even- 
11 



162 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ing. Once or twice a week discussions were held of 
public questions in which the colored people were inter- 
ested. The debates were usually opened by the pastor, 
but participated in by members of the church of both 
sexes. When it is remembered that the pastor was a 
slave, who worked for his master six days in the week, 
and that the members, with few exceptions, were born 
in slavery, and had no knowledge of freedom save the 
hope of it in the future, through the influence of " Massa 
Linkum," my readers will not wonder at the interest I 
felt in these debates, nor at my surprise at the manner 
in which they were conducted. 

I was once invited to act as umpire, or judge, at one 
of these discussions. The question was, " What makes 
the white man the superior of the colored man ?" I ex- 
cused myself on the ground that I was interested in the 
question, and could not trust my own impartiality. But 
I did not fail to attend the meeting at which the subject 
was to be discussed. 

The principal remarks were made by the minister. 
The report is deprived of much of its interest, and all of 
its genuine pathos, by my inability to give the dialect 
of the speakers. I shall only attempt to show by a few 
extracts the good sense which was a prominent feature 
of the discussion, the accuracy with which these peo- 
ple, whom we called ignorant, appreciated the situation, 
and the intelligence with which they set about preparing 
themselves for the coming change in their condition. 

The white man, the pastor said, was their superior. 
This must be so, or he would not have been able to keep 
them for generations in slavery, and he would not now 
be able to live upon their labor. " He makes the world 
believe that we are a careless, thriftless race ; that, like 
the grasshopper, we will not lay up anything for the 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 163 

future, and would starve when winter comes, if he did 
not take care of us. We know this is not true. How 
many men can I count in this congregation who are sup- 
porting the families of their white masters with the wages 
of their labor, besides taking care of their own wives and 
children ? I am doing it, for one, and I do not know of 
any income which my master has had for a long time 
except the earnings of his slaves. If we support our- 
selves and our masters while we are slaves, we can surely 
take care of ourselves when we are free. 

"Brethren, the great God has been very kind and 
merciful to us and our generation. Just like as he saved 
Moses from the crocodiles, and raised him up to lead his 
people out of the land of Egypt and out of the house of 
bondage ; just like as he saved the dear Lord from the 
butchers of old wicked Herod, and bred him up to give 
every sinful black or white man or woman one chance 
to repent and escape out of the hands of old Satan, so 
he has now raised up Massa Linkum, and preserved his 
life, so that he might give us freedom. If we don't do 
our part towards getting ready for freedom, we don't 
deserve to be set free. One thing that we must do in 
getting ready is, to show the world that we can take 
care of ourselves, and that the superiority of the white 
man is not given him by the Almighty, and that he 
cannot hold it, if we do our duty. 

" For the power and control of the white man over us 
comes from his education. He can make books and 
newspapers, and he can use them for his advantage. 
He can read history, and profit by it ; he can carry on 
trade, make bargains, and use us to build houses and 
railroads, because he is educated, and can read and write 
and make figures. We cannot do all that he does, be- 
cause we cannot read and write. What can he do with 



164: RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

his arms and hands that we cannot do ? And, if we had 
his education, why could we not do all these other things 
as well as he ? Brethren, this is not a question. A ques- 
tion has two sides to it this has got only one. You 
know that an ignorant white man is a poorer creature 
than an ignorant colored man. A poor white in the 
South is lower down than any slave. Who supports the 
rum-shops in this city ? Is it the ignorant whites or the 
ignorant colored men? Yet these white men go every 
week from the grog-shops to the penitentiary, claiming 
how much better they are than the ' niggers,' with whom 
they are too respectable to associate ! 

" Oh, my dear brethren, I have only just now learned 
to read. Until we heard that Massa Liukum was elect- 
ed I never had a spelling-book or learned my letters. I 
was sixty-five years old before I knew the difference be- 
tween A and B. I thank the Lord that now I can read 
the news ; that I can read the Bible. I am learning ev- 
ery day. Every hour that I can save from my work I 
give to my Reader, Geography, and Arithmetic. I want 
to see every colored man and woman, and every colored 
child, with a spelling-book or a primer or some other 
book always in their hands. Pretty soon now we shall 
have our freedom. I don't know just when, but the 
Lord and Massa Linkum knows, and they will tell us in 
their own good time. Freedom will come before we are 
ready. Let us get ready as fast as we can. Getting 
ready means learning to read and write, and make fig- 
ures. When we all learn to do these things when we 
educate ourselves and our children, we shall be the equals 
of any white race on the face of the earth ; we shall be- 
come a credit to our race, to the country, and to that 
great and good man who has been raised up by the Lord 
to give us freedom. The Bible is all full of directions to 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 165 

get wisdom, to get education. It tells how one poor 
man saved a city when a great king, with a mighty 
army, tried to take it, because he had wisdom." 

Suddenly the old man dropped upon his knees, and, 
raising his clasped hands in the most unstudied attitude 
of supplication, exclaimed, " Oh, Lord, teach my people ! 
teach my people !" I never heard a more earnest and 
touching prayer. Every person in the crowded church 
was kneeling, and spontaneously their musical voices, 
pitched to the same key, swelled a mighty refrain 
" Hear him, good Lord ! hear him 1" A single voice 
sang, " Praise God !" and with an effect almost inde- 
scribable the old doxology rang through the church 
from floor to roof-tree. I came away while the influ- 
ence of the scene was upon me, humbled and abashed 
by the lesson which the old colored preacher had taught 
me of the injustice of my race, and deeply impressed by 
the earnest simplicity of this effort of a simple-minded 
man to prepare his people for emancipation. 

At this period observing men could not have failed to 
notice that many colored men had become students of 
the spelling-book and primer. Porters at the hotels were 
poring over the well-thumbed pages whenever they had 
a moment of spare time. One of the laborers in my 
office, an old, white-haired man, had arranged to per- 
form his service with promptness, and then to be called 
whenever he should be wanted. His mysterious disap- 
pearances led me to make inquiry, and, through a clerk, 
I soon discovered the old man's occupation during the 
intervals of work. The files-room of the register was 
in the basement of the Treasury. In a recess, formed 
by a window at the farther end of the room, was a space 
large enough to seat four persons. It was a corner sel- 
dom visited, and far away from the hall or passage. 



166 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

Here four colored employes of the Treasury had im- 
provised a school-room. Not one of them was under 
sixty-five years of age ; the man employed in the Regis- 
ter's Office must have been fully threescore and ten. 
They had arranged narrow seats facing each other, and 
at the time of my entrance their teacher, a colored boy 
of about ten years, was hearing their lessons. My old 
laborer, through an enormous pair of horn spectacles, 
was reading out his lesson in words of three letters. 
He attacked his task with great earnestness, shaking his 
white, woolly head as he came to a hard place in it, but 
finally spelled out, without assistance, " The-dog-can-run." 
His teacher praised his improvement, and said he should 
soon put him in words of four letters. His old, wrinkled 
face beamed with delight as he asked, " Do you t'ink I 
can manage 'em, sonny? Dey're drefful hard!" The 
teacher assured him that he could, and that before very 
long he would be able to read the newspaper, which ap- 
peared to be the universal desideratum. 

The colored people frequently had the latest and fresh- 
est news. How they got it I never ascertained. When 
armies were fighting, they used to assemble in parties 
of a dozen or twenty, when one would read aloud to 
the others all the news from the morning journals. 
They had other sources of information of which we 
knew nothing. Several times my colored messengers 
brought me intelligence in advance of the press. It 
had been decided to issue the Emancipation Proclama- 
tion before the battle of Antietam. I was first informed 
of its intended postponement by one of these messen- 
gers, who said that the President would not issue it un- 
til we had gained a victory ; that, if issued at that time, 
it might be regarded as a desperate act, resorted to be- 
cause we despaired of success in the field. His inf orma- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 167 

tion was perfectly accurate. To my inquiry whether 
the delay would not prove a disappointment to the ne- 
gro race, he made the answer which was so frequently 
repeated, and which illustrated their absolute confidence 
in the President, " Why, no, sir ! Of course Massa Lin- 
kum knows best !" 









XXIY. 

SECRETARY CAMERON. HIS RESIGNATION. GENERAL FREMONT. 
HIS TROUBLES IN THE DEPARTMENT OF THE WEST. SECRE- 
TARY STANTON. HIS CHARACTER. THE DAVIS COMMISSION. 
MR. O'NEILL'S REPORT ON SECRETARY STANTON'S SERVICES. 

THE circumstances which led to the resignation of the 
"War Department by Secretary Cameron, and the selec- 
tion of Mr. Stanton as his successor, have never been 
fairly presented to the public. They form a complicated 
chapter of our war history ; they are numerous and de- 
serve greater space than I can afford to give them. I 
have long felt that the general estimate entertained by 
the American people of the character and services of Mr. 
Stanton was much less favorable than it should be. Some 
of the facts within my knowledge may tend to a more 
correct appreciation of the great War Secretary, and to 
remove public misapprehensions, which but for his strong 
peculiarities Mr. Stanton would have himself rendered 
impossible. 

In December, 1861, our republic was passing through 
a very trying period of its existence. There had been 
no successes in the field to compensate for the disaster 
of Bull Run. The country was putting forth a mighty 
effort to raise and organize an army, under a young and 
untried general ; the Confederates, united and defiant, 
had suppressed every expression of loyalty in the revolt- 
ed states, and their sympathizers in the North were hold- 
ing conventions and resolving that the war was a fail- 
ure. Just at this time Great Britain had found in the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 169 

"Trent affair" an excuse to deal us a blow which we 
had not the strength to return, and the Treasury, taxed 
to its utmost capacity, and struggling under its burdens, 
had reached a point where it must be relieved from the 
demands with which it was flooded from the " Depart- 
ment of the West," or publicly confess its inability to 
carry them. 

Secretary Cameron, as the result of his own experi- 
ence, had decided that the "War Department required 
the services of a more energetic secretary. No friend of 
the Union doubted the loyalty or the patriotism of this 
eminent Pennsylvanian. His long connection with, and 
administration of, large corporations gave him most ex- 
cellent business qualifications for the War Office. Then, 
as now, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company was gen- 
erally accepted as a model for the business management 
of a great institution. Colonel Thomas A. Scott was 
credited with originating its business system. He was 
then in the prime of life, and, with his corps of lieuten- 
ants in the railroad service, followed his old chief into 
the War Department. So far as its business manage- 
ment was concerned, this Department was supposed to 
be better equipped than any other in the government. 
And so it was. The quick perception and energy of 
Colonel Scott, in which his aides participated, rapidly re- 
vealed the time-sanctified obstructions, and so cleared 
away the dead-wood of the office that it was brought 
to the highest state of efficiency. 

But Colonel Scott encountered one obstruction which 
he could not overcome. It was the contempt of the offi- 
cers of the regular army for the appointments from civil 
life. At that time every head of a bureau in the War 
Office was an officer of the regular army, with a very 
limited experience in the field. They sincerely believed 



170 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

that all good things came out of "West Point, and that four 
years there, followed by twenty-five years of theoretical 
service in the army, were the indispensable qualifications 
of a bureau officer. These men never openly opposed 
efforts at improvement. They were always apparently 
ready to correct abuses, avoid procrastination, and co- 
operate in making the Department a model of business 
efficiency. 

But, somehow, it always happened that when it was 
proposed to carry a new rule into practice, and cut off 
some venerable excrescence, it could not be done. No 
one openly objected the difficulties arose spontane- 
ously. If the change was pressed, objections multiplied, 
and the endeavor was sure to encounter the opposition 
of every employe, reinforced by whatever outside influ- 
ence he could control. That the existing system was 
perfection itself was the principal article of faith of the 
bureau clerk. The result commonly was, that the en- 
thusiasm for reform waned, as objections multiplied, and, 
after continuing the contest for a few weeks without ac- 
complishing any good result, the advocate for improve- 
ment gave it up, and the bureau settled down into its 
former quiet inefficiency, much to the comfort of the 
official in command and his subordinates. It is true 
that public indignation eventually interfered, but how 
many lives were lost, what an aggregate of suffering 
and waste of money were entailed, by the hostility of 
the regular service to anything proposed by civilians 
cannot readily be estimated. 

The custom of the heads of some military depart- 
ments to make contracts without regard to the ability 
of the Treasury to meet their payments more than once 
brought the Treasury to the verge of bankruptcy. A 
very brief experience satisfied Colonel Scott of the im- 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 171 

minence of this danger, and the total lack of necessi- 
ty for the same. He proposed a change, which would 
still have left to such commander a limited discretion, 
but would have restricted his powers within safe lim- 
its. He met with the united resistance of the whole 
Department. It was declared an insult to military 
officers to subject them to such rules. Had these 
bureau officers seconded the wise proposals of Colonel 
Scott an enormous waste of money would have been 
avoided and the necessity for a change of secretaries 
would not have arisen. Finding that all his efforts 
at reform only served to excite opposition, and as his 
wish to assist his old chief had been his only reason for 
coming into the Department, Colonel Scott left it, and 
returned to his railroad, whither all his lieutenants fol- 
lowed him. 

In June, 1861, General Fremont, just returned from 
abroad, was appointed to the command of the " Depart- 
ment of the West," with his headquarters at St. Louis. 
Missouri had been saved to the Union by the vigorous 
loyalty of her citizens. There was, therefore, some ex- 
cuse for giving to General Fremont powers in addition 
to those usually vested in the head of a military depart- 
ment. He was authorized to purchase or construct ves- 
sels for use upon the Western rivers ; in effect to create 
a navy. 

During April and May there had been much looseness 
in the allowance of claims upon the national Treasury 
from St. Louis and its vicinity; the War Department 
had assumed some claims created by citizens without 
previous authority. The apology for this gross irregu- 
larity, if any such apology existed, was that the govern- 
ment property could not be otherwise protected. The 
consequences were not slow in making their appearance. 



172 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

Men are apt to be liberal with the money of others, and 
the loyal citizens of Missouri were much like other men. 
As soon as the precedent was established, these claims 
increased to a frightful aggregate, which led to the crea- 
tion of the Department of the West, and an order, that 
thereafter all the moneys of the United States must be 
disbursed by the regularly appointed officers of the gov- 
ernment. 

This order produced no diminution in the claims. To 
every remonstrance General Fremont replied that the 

; claims originated before his appointment, and that he 
was not responsible for them. During the summer and 
autumn they reached an amount which it was difficult 
for the Treasury to meet, and some disposition must be 
made of them, or their continued payment be openly re- 
fused. Suspicions of their honesty began to arise. For 
example, an account for army blankets of a well-known 
description had been allowed, and a warrant drawn for 
its payment. The register caused the list to be copied, 
without the prices, and submitted to two "Washington 
dealers, who were requested to name the prices at which 
they would furnish five or ten pairs of like blankets to 
the Treasury. Both named the same price, which was 
only 32 per cent, of that paid at St. Louis. The facts 
were communicated immediately to Secretary Chase. 
The subject was considered in Cabinet meeting, where 
it was determined that payment of all claims against 
the Military Department of the West which originated 
prior to the appointment of General Fremont should be 
suspended until they were examined by a commission 
which should report the facts, with its opinion upon 
the amount equitably due. The order first applied 
only to " unsettled claims," but before its labors finally 
terminated the commission's jurisdiction was extended 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 173 

to claims which had been approved by the accounting 
officers. 

Towards the end of October the President appointed 
David Davis, of Illinois, Joseph Holt, of Kentucky, and 
Hugh Campbell, of Missouri, members of this commis- 
sion. These gentlemen were eminently fitted for the 
stern duties they were required to perform. They were 
just men, who would as readily reduce to its true value 
the claim of the most influential citizen as of the most 
insignificant person. 

Before this commission was appointed, General Fre- 
mont had involved himself in complications which seri- 
ously interfered with his efficiency. He had issued a 
proclamation manumitting the slaves of rebels, which 
President Lincoln found it necessary to modify. A man 
of great amiability of character, he had too great con- 
fidence in the statements of others, and thus was easily 
influenced by designing men. His personal integrity 
was unquestioned, but his amiable weaknesses were so 
well known that the President had been unwilling to 
place him in command of such an important depart- 
ment, and had only been induced to do so by the per- 
sistence of the general's influential relatives and friends. 
His appointment was the signal for the gathering at St. 
Louis of the clans of the speculative, the unprincipled, 
and the dishonest. These men applauded him in the 
newspapers and extolled him to his face. They lost no 
opportunity of assuring him that he was the greatest 
military leader, the most distinguished statesman of his 
generation ; in short, that the finger of destiny pointed 
to him as the coming President, the inevitable successor 
of Mr. Lincoln. There are few men, and General Fre- 
mont was not of the number, who do not like to be 
praised. The interested persons referred to were ex- 



RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

tremely vigilant. They took almost entire possession of 
the general, and made it very difficult for others to ap- 
proach him, or to get his attention to the most urgent 
public business. A profitable contract was the one thing 
needful, the single reward which every one of these per- 
sons was seeking. The demands upon the Treasury in- 
dicated that few of them sought it in vain. 

The criticisms upon the conduct of General Fremont 
culminated in charges against him, preferred by General 
Frank Blair. Although the confidence of loyal citizens 
in his fidelity to the Union remained unshaken, Presi- 
dent Lincoln determined that the good of the service re- 
quired his removal from his command. The order to 
that effect reached him at Springfield, Missouri, on the 
2d of November. His conduct upon that occasion should 
always be remembered to his credit. He was in hourly 
expectation of a Confederate attack. His body-guard, 
which was devoted to him, was excited and indignant. 
But instead of sulking in his tent, he continued his prep- 
arations to meet the enemy, and spent the night in watch- 
ful inspection of the defences, ready to lead the army if 
the anticipated attack should be made. His brief ad- 
dress to his men, written during that night, is a model of 
its kind. It contains no trace of sullenness. It urges 
the army principally to make him proud of them by 
continuing to his successor the cordial support which 
had so much encouraged him. His single regret was 
that he could not have the honor of leading them to the 
victory they were about to win, but he should claim the 
right to share in the joy of their triumph, and to be al- 
ways remembered by his companions in arms. He will 
be a cold-hearted American, who in after-times shall 
read that letter and fail to recognize the fervent patriot- 
ism of its distinguished author. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 175 

The first experiences of the commission in the investi- 
gation of these claims in St. Louis produced discoveries 
which led to the enlargement of its jurisdiction to all 
the claims in the Department, whatever their date or 
origin, which had not passed the accounting officers of 
the Treasury. But this increase of its powers was 
among the least important results of the commission. 
By the end of the year the amount of these claims al- 
lowed by the accounting officers became so large as to 
again threaten the solvency of the Treasury. By their 
allowance they became a part of the admitted national 
debt. What Avas to be done with them? There were 
many anxious Cabinet consultations for the purpose of 
devising some means of refusing payment of these 
claims, without subjecting the Treasury justly to the 
charge of repudiation. There was but one way discov- 
ered in which it could be done. Possibly there was but 
one man in the nation who had the moral courage to do 
it. The way was for the Secretary of "War to undertake 
the personal examination of the facts in each case, and 
to refuse to send any claim to the Treasury for payment 
until he had become satisfied of its justice and equity. 
In this way the aggregate daily demands upon the Treas- 
ury might be kept within its ability to pay. 

At this time another subject was demanding the 
greatest possible efficiency in the administration of the 
War Office. Treasonable utterances in the loyal states 
from newspapers and individuals were becoming bold 
and frequent. The fact that such newspapers were 
allowed freely to continue their objectionable publica- 
tions was certainly one form of giving aid and comfort 
to the enemy, and made it difficult to call, with success, 
upon the country for volunteers, money, and materials. 
The voice of loyalty to the Union was suppressed in the 



176 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

Confederate States on pain of death. To permit the ad- 
vocacy of Secession principles in the loyal states was to 
place them at an insufferable disadvantage. 

The Habeas Corpus Act had not yet been passed, and 
the measures for the suppression of open disloyalty must 
necessarily originate in the War Department. The ex- 
cellent judgment of Mr. Cameron determined that he 
was not the secretary who could enforce such measures 
with the greatest success. He was conservative, delib- 
erate, strongly averse to going beyond the bounds of 
lawful authority. If the writ of Habeas Corpus was to 
be suspended, certain Northern newspapers suppressed, 
and Northern men of disloyal tendencies imprisoned by 
military authority, the exigency demanded at the head 
of the War Department a bold, fearless man, prompt to 
assume responsibility in doubtful cases. 

The immediate cause, however, of the secretary's res- 
ignation was the decision of the Cabinet to decline pay- 
ment of claims from the Department of the West which 
arose out of contracts lawfully made and for which the 
government was liable according to established rules of 
law, and especially such as had been allowed by the ac- 
counting officers. He had no doubt that, in fact, the 
claims were grossly exaggerated, but the method pro- 
posed for dealing with them he regarded as undignified, 
or, as he expressed it, too much like pretending to pay 
specie by counting out dimes and half-dimes when bills 
were presented for redemption. Such a proceeding, he 
did not think, would be successful under a secretary en- 
tertaining his views, and he therefore tendered his res- 
ignation, which was accepted on the 14th of January, 
1862. 

I think I was in a position to know that Mr. Cameron 
retained the full confidence of the President and of his 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 177 

associates in the Cabinet, notwithstanding some criti- 
cisms made at the time by his enemies upon his official 
conduct. These criticisms produced considerable im- 
pression. One act of his led to the passage by the pop- 
ular branch of Congress of a resolution of censure, some 
months subsequent to his resignation. The charge was 
that he had intrusted Mr. Alexander Gumming with the 
custody of large amounts of the public money, and au- 
thority to purchase military supplies, without taking any 
security. But the President was too just a man to per- 
mit an act to be exclusively imputed to Mr. Cameron 
for which himself and the whole Cabinet were responsi- 
ble. He promptly answered the resolution by a message, 
in which he stated that on the 20th of April, 1861, after 
the fall of Sumter, and while the capital was in a state 
of siege, he authorized Governor Morgan and Alexander 
Gumming to make all necessary arrangements for the 
transportation of troops and munitions of war, and gen- 
erally to assist the officers of the army in its movements, 
until communications should be re-established ; and di- 
rected the Secretary of the Treasury to advance, with- 
out security, two millions of dollars to John A. Dix, 
George Opdyke, and Eichard M. Blatchford, of New 
York, to be used in meeting requisitions for the public 
defence. Every dollar of the money had been accounted 
for, and Mr. Cameron was no more responsible than him- 
self and the other members of the Cabinet for whatever 
fault had been committed in the premises. This vigor- 
ous language ended all further criticism, and no more 
attacks were made upon the late secretary. So long as 
the President lived he entertained the kindliest feeling 
for Mr. Cameron, and gave him a large measure of his 
confidence. 

Edwin M. Stanton belonged to a class of men whose 
12 



178 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

public acts seem to invite misinterpretation. There was 
no man in a conspicuous position during the war whose 
objects were more universally misunderstood or whose 
motives were more harshly criticised. These results, 
equally unjust to himself and unfortunate for the coun- 
try, were more his fault than his misfortune. They 
were induced by his own carelessness of speech and 
contempt for public opinion ; they might have been at 
any time corrected. He had been so long accustomed 
to uncharitable criticism that it had ceased to annoy him 
or even to attract his attention. 

In the year 1861, Mr. Stanton was in the very prime 
of his intellectual and physical life. He was about five 
feet eight inches in height, his figure being slightly in- 
clined to corpulence. His face was dark, and the lower 
portion of it was completely covered with a long, heavy, 
dark beard. His eyes were small, dark, and piercing. 
His movements were quick. Vigorous alertness was 
indicated by every change of his countenance and 
movement of his body. His mind was as active as his 
person. It was original and mechanical rather than 
philosophic or thoughtful. Its type was indicated by 
his success at the bar, where he had attained an enviable 
reputation as an advocate in patent cases, with but little 
celebrity in the investigation or discussion of abstract 
principles. His perceptions were too quick to be always 
accurate ; his ideas seemed to burst forth from his brain 
like a torrent from a mountain-side, with a force of cur- 
rent which swept along with it obstructions of every 
description. He impressed those who knew him best 
with a sense of his own personal courage, the existence 
of which was denied by his numerous enemies. What- 
ever he may have been in the presence of danger to his 
person, his whole official life was a witness to his com- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 179 

plete insensibility to the opinions of others upon his ac- 
tions. These qualities constituted a character eminently 
aggressive ; a man capable of lofty purposes, which, once 
formed, were to be pursued to failure or success. He 
was, or at least appeared to be, insensible to all influ- 
ences outside of his own construction of the law. He 
had the capacity of so shutting in his own consciousness 
that he was as impervious to external influences as if he 
had been made of metal or stone. 

The circumstances under which Mr. Stanton had en- 
tered the Cabinet of the last administration were as try- 
ing to himself as his services there were invaluable to 
the country. The crimes of Floyd, the machinations 
of Cobb and his associates, had driven that loyal old 
Democratic soldier, General Cass, from the chair of 
state. Cobb had resigned ; Floyd and Thompson were 
still there, with the new Secretary of State, whose opin- 
ion, as Attorney-General, " that Congress had no power 
to make war upon a state," still dominated the Cabinet. 
Stanton was tendered the office of Attorney-General, as 
the successor of General Black, whose political faith he 
was supposed to have embraced. He had decided to de- 
cline the appointment. There was nothing of reputa- 
tion to be gained in the office during the fraction of the 
term which remained ; there was but one loyal member 
left, and he was a Kentuckian. Mr. Stanton went to 
the Executive Mansion to thank the President and ex- 
plain his declination. He saw and appreciated that the 
only defence of the Union against Secession for the mo- 
ment was the wavering President who had called him 
to his aid. The picture changed his determination. In- 
stead of declining, he then and there accepted the ap- 
pointment. 

The circumstances of the first Cabinet meeting he at- 



180 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

tended should be recalled by those who care to deal 
justly with the reputation of Mr. Stanton. In addition 
to those already mentioned, they were reported to be as 
follows : The meeting occurred on an unfortunate day 
for Secession. It was the 8th of January, the anniversary 
of the battle of New Orleans. Floyd had made the 
refusal of the President to withdraw the troops from 
Charleston Harbor the pretext for tendering his resig- 
nation, which had not been accepted. Cobb, after deal- 
ing a deadly blow at the national credit, had been suc- 
ceeded by a man of no positive opinions from a Border 
state. The only member present known to be true to 
the Union was Judge Holt. All the other members were 
in sympathy with Secession, or, like the President, were 
struggling to maintain a neutral position, when neutral- 
ity was little better than treason. 

" Should Major Anderson be reinforced or withdrawn 
from Fort Sumter ?" was then the burning question. The 
discussion was fierce and long, and almost wholly on the 
Secession side. It ended by a motion made by Secretary 
Thompson that Major Anderson be commanded to retire 
and abandon Fort Sumter. The only voice raised against 
it was the single one of Judge Holt. Floyd, Thompson, 
Thomas were openly, Judge Black and the President 
secretly inclined in its favor. 

The occasion demanded a man of courage, and he was 
there. It was the first Cabinet experience of Mr. Stanton. 
The proprieties of the occasion, the traditions of Cabinet 
action, and his own inclinations combined to secure his 
silence. But he was not the man to become an accom- 
plice in crime. It is a public misfortune that the words 
of burning denunciation which constituted the first re- 
marks of Secretary Stanton in a Cabinet meeting were 
not recorded at the time ; that, to recall them, we are 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 181 

constrained to rely upon the memory of Judge Holt, the 
only other loyal member among traitors in intention, 
to whom the whip of his stinging scorn was applied. 
From him we learn that the words were, in substance, 
these : 

" Mr. President : At your solicitation I have consented 
to become, for a very brief time, your constitutional 
adviser in matters of law. It is an office I did not seek, 
but while I hold it I shall perform its duties. The mo- 
tion of your Secretary of the Interior presents my first 
official duty. That motion is, that you surrender the 
soldiers and abandon the property of the United States 
to its enemies. When that motion passes, its author, its 
supporters, every member of your Cabinet present, and 
yourself, if you and they do not oppose it, will have com- 
mitted a crime as high as that of treason !" 

Had a bomb exploded, the party would not have been 
more astounded. Such words had never been heard in 
that presence. Thompson and Floyd, their voices para- 
lyzed with anger, vented their wrath in threatening gest- 
ures. Judge Holt moved around the end of the table to 
Stanton's side. Menaces were not replied to in kind by 
him, but, if contempt could have burned, his look would 
have scorched the traitors. Thompson first controlled 
his voice into intelligible speech. "Who," he almost 
screamed, "will dare to arrest me for treason? And 
what army officer will assist him in his Black Kepublican 
work ? There are two hundred men in my own depart- 
ment who will protect me if I call on them !" 

" If the officer appointed by law calls for assistance 
to arrest you or any other traitor, I will render it, for 
one," replied Mr. Stanton, " and one of the oldest and 
bravest of our generals has publicly declared that, if 
Fort Sumter is surrendered, he will, within twenty days, 



182 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

lead two hundred thousand men to take vengeance on 
all the betrayers of the Union!" 

The meeting dispersed while the President was wait- 
ing for mutual concessions. Within a few hours the 
frauds of Floyd became public, and compelled the ac- 
ceptance of his resignation. Thomas also made way in 
the Treasury for General Dix, who, within the month, 
had written an order which will carry his name to the 
last page of the latest history of patriotism, and enough 
of stamina was infused into the enervated administra- 
tion to carry it through its expiring hours without any 
very humiliating concessions to disunion. 

With the undeniably strong and valuable qualities 
which controlled the mind of Mr. Stanton were mingled 
others which were injurious to his reputation and a det- 
riment to his usefulness. His judgment of other men 
was as partial as that of Secretary Chase. But while 
the latter did not resist the influence of personal ad- 
miration and praises of himself, Mr. Stanton was ex- 
tremely suspicious of anything like personal commenda- 
tion. Probably no man ever repeated the attempt to 
praise him. The first almost certainly produced either 
a shaft of satire or a glance of contempt. Other great 
faults were mixed with his great powers. He acquired 
permanent prejudices against others without an effort 
and often without a cause, and, once imbibed, they be- 
came indelible. His temperament was censorious and 
rather gloomy. He was parsimonious of his commenda- 
tions of others, but not sparing in his criticisms. Men of 
his very peculiar nature are constantly making enemies, 
who are retained without effort, while they make but few 
friends, and those are not to be retained without watchful 
attention. 

Cant, pretence, and hypocrisy were the Parcae which 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 133 

never passed the door of Mr. Stanton's favor. He could 
not endure the breath of either. It irritated him to hear 
any one speak of his own patriotism, or his sacrifices. 
Such men, he maintained, were necessarily hypocrites, 
and it must be admitted that herein his estimate was 
seldom at fault. There was one sin for which, before the 
bar of his judgment, there was neither excuse, pardon, 
nor remission : it was fraud or peculation in the public 
service. In the catalogue of crimes, as he would have 
arranged it, these were more iniquitous than openly 
bearing arms against the government. 

This was no hasty or superficial conclusion of his 
mind it was reached by a process of logical reasoning. 
To him the republic was like a woman whom we pro- 
fessed to love, assailed on every side by some of the 
children she had borne and nourished ; herself defenceless, 
with her life depending upon the loyalty of those who 
were still faithful. "While these, by thousands, were 
shedding their blood and laying down their lives to save 
hers, there were a few clothed in her uniform and sworn 
to defend her flag who were treacherous enough to make 
profit of her necessities by selling the arms, the food, the 
clothing of their sick, wounded, and dying brothers. In 
such a stress and strain there could be no abstraction 
from the national resources by unjust profit or by fraud, 
which did not in some way diminish the arms, supplies, 
the clothing or comforts of our soldiers in the field. A 
defrauding contractor was a greater criminal than an 
open, willing rebel. And there was one superlative type 
of unmitigated rascal, and that was a man who, wearing 
the uniform or invested with the authority of the United 
States, could use his rank, his office, or his position for 
his own secret, unlawful, personal gain ! 

An actual occurrence will illustrate both the careless- 



184 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ness of expression in which Secretary Stanton indulged, 
and the intensity of his feeling towards men of this class. 
At a reception one evening he was engaged in conversa- 
tion with an officer when a person passed them. Turning 
the subject, he suddenly exclaimed : 

" Do you know that person?" at the same time indi- 
cating the individual who had passed, who still stood 
within hearing but for the sound of conversation. 

" Know him ? Certainly. He is Mr. , chief of 

the bureau in your own Department. Why do you 

ask?" 

" Because he is a pretender, a humbug, and a fraud," 
said Mr. Stanton. " Did you ever in all your life see the 
head of a human being which so closely resembled that 
of a cod-fish ?" 

" He is not responsible for his head or his face. But 
why do you say he is a fraud ? The newspapers call him 
a reformer, and give him credit for great efficiency." 

" I deny your conclusions," he replied. " A man of 
fifty is responsible for his face ! Yes, I know he is 
courting the newspapers : that proves him a humbug and 
presumptively a fraud." 

A few months later the official in question was found 
guilty by a court-martial of peculation and fraud in the 
management of his bureau, and dishonorably expelled 
from the service. 

Mr. Stanton's unpopularity, if the term is permissible, 
was due to his own neglect and carelessness. It was 
owing to his negligence that he never cared to give any 
one a favorable impression of himself it was his fault 
that his dislikes were caused by slight circumstances, 
and often inexplicable. When he made an unpleasant 
remark about another it was seldom forgotten, for he 
could put more caustic bitterness into a brief sentence of 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 185 

personal criticism than Carlyle, or any known master of 
the vocabulary of denunciation. But, perhaps, enough 
has been said to indicate the qualities which led to his 
selection by President Lincoln as the successor in the 
War Office of Secretary Cameron. 

Men of Mr. Stanton's temperament could not be the 
favorites of President Lincoln. There were also reasons 
of a personal character which would have barred his en- 
trance into the Cabinet, if Mr. Lincoln had been an ordi- 
nary man. They were known to each other before the 
war. Both had been counsel for the same party in an 
action in which, by professional courtesy, Mr. Lincoln 
was entitled to make the argument, unless he voluntarily 
waived his right. It was an action in which he took a 
deep interest professionally, and for which he had made 
thorough preparation, and was, consequently, certain to 
have made a better argument than his associate. But 
Mr. Stanton, without consulting his colleague, in a domi- 
neering manner not uncommon with him in similar 
cases, although he was the younger man, coolly assumed 
control and crowded Mr. Lincoln out of his own case. 
The latter felt deeply hurt at the slight, which was the 
more remarkable since it is the only recorded instance 
in which he seems ever to have claimed in his own favor 
any question of precedence. No lawyer would have ex- 
pected Mr. Lincoln to overlook such a gross discourtesy, 
or to take its author into confidence, without the most 
ample apology. 

But when did any personal consideration weigh a 
feather in the mind of President Lincoln if the public 
safety was in question? Oblivion of himself on such 
occasions was the indisputable demonstration of his 
moral greatness. He who, two years later, could say 
of one who, without excuse, had added to the heavy 



186 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

burden of his cares, " If I have the opportunity I will 
make him chief justice," and kept the promise, now 
recognizing in Mr. Stanton the qualities which the War 
Office required, invited him into his Cabinet as cordially 
as if they had been old friends. From that time, through 
dark and evil days, through nights of solicitude and fear- 
ful responsibility, they together carried the burden of 
war, until, and largely owing to their joint labors, the 
rebellion was crushed and the republic saved. 

In the dark night of another day of evil the most 
sorrowful heart by the bedside of the murdered Presi- 
dent throbbed in the bosom of his Secretary of War, and 
his voice it was which spoke his grandest eulogy in the 
words, " There lies the most perfect ruler of men the 
world has ever seen !" 

On the 14th of January, 1862, Mr. Stanton was in- 
vited into the Cabinet and accepted his nomination as 
Secretary of War. He was expected to diminish the 
demands of the Department of the West upon the Treas- 
ury, but it was not supposed that he would wholly arrest 
them. There were numerous monthly requisitions from 
the War Department upon the Treasury, authorized by 
statutes, which it was necessary to provide for, in order 
to carry on the regular operations of the government. 
For almost a fortnight none of these were made. The 
delay became so embarrassing to the daily operations of 
the government that the Secretary of the Treasury re- 
quested one of his bureau chiefs to call upon Secretary 
Stanton and ascertain the reason for the delay. This 
officer solicited an interview, and the Secretary of War 
named six o'clock P.M. on January 28th as a convenient 
time. Two hours after the close of business on January 
28th this officer found Secretary Stantoij literally buried 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 187 

in accumulated heaps of requisitions on the Treasury, 
each paper of which was an account, upon which some 
one was, by the judgment of the "War Office, lawfully 
entitled to a Treasury warrant for its payment. There 
were, literally, cords of these requisitions. The piles sur- 
rounded the Secretary's desk, and were higher than his 
person when he stood erect. He was carefully examin- 
ing each account with its vouchers. The result of his 
day's work lay by his side, possibly a dozen requisitions 
approved, and five times as many reserved for further 
investigation. The Treasury officer asked him whether 
he was discharging the functions of an " auditor" of these 
claims. 

" I am discharging a duty imposed by statute," he re- 
plied. " No further payments will be made by the Treas- 
ury on the requisitions of this Department until I know 
that they ought to be made !" 

" You are undertaking an impossibility," said the rep- 
resentative of the Treasury. " You will stop the wheels 
of government. No five men can do what you are un- 
dertaking !" 

" I am not responsible for that," said the Secretary. "I 
am responsible for aiding the payment of fraudulent 
claims. You yourself have put me upon inquiry. You 
arrested a warrant for the payment of $26 each for 
muskets, previously offered to this Department for less 
than $4 each, and the offer was declined. Such claims 
are scandalous as well as fraudulent. I intend to arrest 
them!" 

He would not be moved from this position. He would 
not approve the formal requisitions, which were unques- 
tionably just, out of their regular order. He would do 
nothing but take up each account in its order, and either 
approve or reject it, as the facts seemed to warrant. To 



188 RECOLLECTIONS OF PKESIDENT LINCOLN 

every argument or statement of the evil consequences 
that must follow from this practical suspension of the 
payment of war claims, his answer was that the statute 
and not the secretary was responsible. 

In a few days the Department of the "West was in an 
uproar there was a rebellion within the loyal states. 
Every Western man, of any influence, hurried to Wash- 
ington. The War Office was in a state of siege the 
Secretary was waylaid in the streets, at his residence, 
even in his bed. No combination so powerful had been 
made since the fall of Sumter as that which now beset 
the White House and all the departments to induce Sec- 
retary Stanton to change his policy, and permit these 
claims to be presented to the Treasury for payment. 
Every conceivable means, influence, effort, and endeavor, 
every imaginable prediction of calamity, mischance, and 
disaster, even denunciations, menaces, and threats were 
brought to bear to persuade or to drive him to remove 
the obstruction, and permit the current of public money 
into the Department of the West to resume its flow. 

But all in vain. The Washington Monument was not 
more insensible to the breath of a summer wind than 
was Secretary Stanton to all these supposed influences. 
He labored diligently, through the night-watches as well 
as in the daytime. Possibly a tenth of the average num- 
ber of requisitions were made daily by his Department 
upon the Treasury; but when the average was once 
established, it never increased, nor had the Treasury 
any difficulty in meeting the moderate aggregate of his 
demands. 

Many weeks of this delay did not elapse before the 
claimants began to implore for some measure of relief. 
Was no compromise possible ? Was there no way of ob- 
taining payment of such portion of these demands as 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 

was clearly just ? Secretary Stanton had one uniform 
reply. The Court of Claims was open. It was the tri- 
bunal provided by law for claimants not satisfied with 
the proceedings of the Department. At length, when 
all other resources had failed, the claimants in the De- 
partment of the West voluntarily offered to submit their 
claims to the Davis Commission, if the Treasury would 
pay such amounts as that commission found was equita- 
bly due. To this Mr. Stanton would assent, provided 
the claimants would accept the amount so found justly 
due in full payment, but not otherwise. After a vain 
effort to move him from this position, the claimants con- 
sented, and the whole accumulated mass of unpaid war 
claims in the Department of the West was sent to the 
commission for investigation. They were so numerous 
that it was more convenient to measure them by the 
cubic foot than otherwise. 

The commission dealt with them justly, and with all 
practicable despatch. It was readily proved that, as a 
rule, claimants and contractors had been permitted to fix 
their own prices. Blankets, tents, provisions, and nu- 
merous other articles had been accepted at four and six 
times the ordinary retail prices, and the account certified 
as just. Many of the claims were allowed at twenty and 
thirty per cent, of the amounts claimed, and the final re- 
sult was that the amount of all the claims allowed by the 
commission was about one half the aggregate allowed by 
the accounting officers. As fast as the claims were liqui- 
dated they were paid by the Treasury. The claimants 
accepted payment of these reduced amounts under pro- 
test and, as they claimed, upon compulsion. Suits to re- 
cover the amounts reduced were brought in the Court of 
Claims, and that court rendered judgment in favor of the 
claimants ; but, upon appeal, the Supreme Court of the 



190 

United States reversed these judgments, on the ground 
that the acceptance of the amounts allowed by the Com- 
mission operated in law to discharge the entire claim. 

The official reputation of Mr. Stanton was essentially 
established by these early acts of his public career. They 
were fiercely denounced at the time as unjust and arbi- 
trary. As he never defended his acts as no one was 
interested to justify them his reputation has necessarily 
suffered. Now that the supposed sense of personal in- 
jury has passed away, a more just judgment of these 
acts may be formed. It should be remembered that the 
Treasury could not have paid these claims. The scale of 
prices they introduced would have bankrupted the na- 
tion during any six months of the war. The claims were 
fraudulently excessive. The equity of the Commission 
was never challenged it would not have reduced the 
claims one half without good reason. The net result, 
then, of this conduct of the Secretary of War was to 
save the Treasury from bankruptcy, the country from 
the payment of unjust claims to a very large amount, 
and from the introduction of a ruinous standard of 
prices, and to administer a stinging rebuke to the pre- 
tended patriots who were robbing the Treasury while 
vaunting their loyalty. 

It was the common opinion that the nature of Mr. 
Stanton was pitiless, that he was insensible to all ap- 
peals for mercy, or for the relief of human suffering or 
sorrow. This opinion has outlived him, and still dark- 
ens his memory. There are individuals who have under- 
taken to write history who have recorded dark hints 
that the torments of a conscience, awakened too late to 
undo the miseries he had inflicted, actually drove him 
to end his own life. "While these persons have earned 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 191 

nothing but contempt for their prurient vagaries, it is 
time that this injustice should be corrected. 

I will call a single witness to the accuracy of this im- 
perfect sketch of the character of Mr. Stanton. Charles 
O'Neill, of Philadelphia, entered Congress before the 
war, and his term of useful service is not yet ended. 
No man knew Mr. Stanton better than Mr. O'Neill. 
As chairman of a committee which reported a bill for 
the erection of a monument to Mr. Stanton, Mr. O'Neill's 
committee made the following record : 

" To the intense patriotism and great personal force 
manifested by Mr. Stanton in 1860-61 was due his ap- 
pointment as Secretary of War, Jan. 20, 1862. He was 
thus made chief of staff of President Lincoln, who was 
by virtue of his office the commander-in-chief of the 
military forces of the United States ; and, although that 
great magistrate never abdicated his authority, the world 
knows that the confidence he reposed in Mr. Stanton 
made the latter mainly responsible for the placing of 
armies in the field and for the selection of the generals 
who finally led them to victory. 

" From the day of his entrance into the War Office 
the change in the conduct of affairs was most marked. 
His organizing power was felt at once in every bureau 
of the Department. To the raising of men and the sup- 
plying of them with the munitions of war, clothing, sub- 
sistence, medicines, and transportation, he gave his great 
capacity for organization, his restless energy, and his 
wonderful powers of endurance. He was a prodigy for 
work. 

" He had a resolute will to do what his judgment told 
him was necessary, and struck out new paths when the 
old ones led only to pitfalls, and the moral courage to 
pursue the course thus marked out. 



192 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

" His faith in the national cause was never shaken, 
and he had the magnetism which enabled him to com- 
municate it to those with whom he came in contact. 

"Laggards and absentees from the army, contract 
brokers, and purveyors of contraband news were made 
to feel his righteous anger. Called upon to perform 
labors which would have exhausted a dozen men, taking 
but little sleep, and his nerves constantly wrought up to 
the highest tension, it would have been strange if he had 
not often been abrupt and impatient while engaged in 
the rapid despatching of business, and especially with 
people who insisted upon consuming time which could 
not properly be given them. 

"The leaders of Congress had the most unbounded 
confidence in his wisdom as well as in his integrity, and 
treated him as one of themselves. The committee which 
had to deal with questions connected with the war gave 
great weight to his recommendations. The vast levies 
of troops and the enormous appropriations for their 
movement and support were in the main measured by 
him under advice of the generals of the army. 

"When Congress had given the authority asked, he 
directed the marshalling of the great resources of the 
country thus made available. From his executive mind 
came the organization of the work by which two mill- 
ions and a half of soldiers were enlisted to fight the 
battles of the Union. He was the impersonation of 
honesty, and, after controlling the expenditure of 
$3,000,000,000, he died poor as he had lived. 

" President Lincoln had in him an absolute trust. 
"WTien the chief-justiceship was vacant, and the good 
Bishop Simpson was urging Stanton for the place, Mr. 
Lincoln replied that he would gladly place him there if 
he would find him another such Secretary of War. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 



193 



" When the nation made General Grant President, he 
appointed Mr. Stanton to a place on the Supreme Bench. 
He received his commission, but disease prevented him 
from entering upon the duties of the office. The mighty 
strain of the war upon him impaired his constitution and 
caused his death. He was a martyr as well as a hero. 

" To perpetuate by enduring monuments the memory 
of the great few who are thus raised up in great crises 
for the salvation of a nation is a duty and a privilege, 
sanctioned by custom and demanded by the natural feel- 
ings of grateful patriotism." 



XXV. 

MAKING $10,000,000 OF UNITED STATES BONDS UNDER PRESS- 
URE. THE CONSTRUCTION OF CONFEDERATE IRON -CLAD 
SHIPS IN BRITISH SHIP- YARDS. THE DEPARTURE OF TWO 
PREVENTED. AN ENGLISHMAN OFFERS A GREAT SERVICE 
TO OUR REPUBLIC. HIS INCOGNITO. 

TEN millions are " a good many " things of any kind. 
They seemed to be more than a good many to the offi- 
cer who had to sign coupon-bonds to that amount in de- 
nominations of $1000 and less, within the time and under 
the pressure of the circumstances about to be described. 
Except upon this single occasion, it is questionable wheth- 
er so large an amount of coupon securities, of the same 
issue, of our government were ever brought together. 

Communication between the United States and Great 
Britain was much more irregular and required longer 
time in 1862 than in 1891. Now, on regular sailing' 
days, twice every week, as many as ten large steam- 
ships leave New York for English ports on a single 
tide. Telegraphic communication between Washington 
and London is almost as frequent as between New York 
and Philadelphia, and it is not interrupted unless four 
cable-lines are simultaneously broken. Then there were 
fewer lines of steamships, and during the war the sail- 
ing-days of some of them were irregular ; only one cable 
had been laid across the Atlantic, and that was not in 
working order. Special messengers carried all the im- 
portant despatches between our country and Great Brit- 
ain ; there was time for a revolution to break out and 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 195 

be suppressed on the Continent before we heard of its 
existence. It was such a messenger who brought the 
first news to America of the furious rage of our trans- 
atlantic cousins excited by the capture by Captain Wilkes 
of those Confederate (almost) protomartyrs Mason and 
SlideU. 

About eleven o'clock on a well -remembered Friday 
morning, in 1862, the Eegister of the Treasury was re- 
quested to go to the Executive Mansion immediately, 
without a moment's delay. He obeyed the summons, 
and found there Secretaries Chase and Seward, in anx- 
ious consultation with the President. They wished to 
know what was the shortest time within which $10,000,000 
in coupon " five-twenties " could be prepared, signed, and 
issued. They were informed that the correct answer to 
that inquiry would depend upon the denominations al- 
ready printed ; that if a sufficient number of the largest 
denomination, of $1000, were on hand, they might be 
issued within four or five days; if the denominations 
were smaller, longer time would be required ; that the 
number printed could be ascertained by sending to the 
Register's Office, for there was a report from the custodi- 
an of unissued bonds made every day. Both Mr. Chase 
and Mr. Seward said that so much time could not be 
given ; that these bonds must be regularly issued, and 
placed on board a steamer which was to leave New York 
for Liverpool at twelve o'clock on the following Monday, 
if this could possibly be done; that the register could 
command all the resources of the government, if neces- 
sary, but he must see that the bonds were on board the 
steamer at the hour named. There was one condition 
the bonds must be regularly and lawfully issued, with 
nothing on their face to indicate that the issue was not 
made in the regular course of business. 



196 RECOLLECTIONS OP PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

By the act of Congress which authorized the issue of 
these bonds it was declared that they should be signed by 
the register. The construction given to the act in the de- 
partment was that the register must sign them in person, 
and that he could not delegate his authority. Any number 
of clerks could be employed in their preparation and entry, 
but the point of difficulty was whether the register could 
sign them within the time. There were seventy hours be- 
tween the time of the discussion and the hour when the 
securities must be on board the special train that would 
carry them to the steamer. The time was long enough. 
Ten thousand signatures and a greater number could be 
made in seventy hours, with proper seasons of rest and 
sleep. But could the physical strength of one man hold 
out to the end of such a dreary, monotonous work with- 
out sleep or rest ? The question was one of physical en- 
durance, only to be determined by a trial. But a few 
moments could be spared for discussion. It was speed- 
ily settled that the register would set about the task at 
once ; that he would sign until his strength gave out. 
He would then resign his office ; the President would 
appoint another register, who would complete the issue. 
This would lead to complications, and was otherwise 
objectionable ; but the faith of the government was in- 
volved ; the emergency justified extreme measures. 

The immediate occasion of this sudden determination 
to issue these securities was a despatch just received by 
Mr. Seward, by special messenger, from Mr. Charles 
Francis Adams, our minister to the court of St. James. 
As already intimated, the cable was not in working 
order, and no suggestion of the facts had been made to 
the State Department previous to the arrival of the mes- 
senger. Its importance was obvious to the two secreta- 
ries, but will not be understood by the reader without 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 197 

an explanation covering a considerable period of time 
and events which are now for the first time made public. 

Mr. Adams had for several weeks been aware, and 
had communicated the fact to his government, that the 
Messrs. Laird, extensive ship-builders, were building at 
their yards in Birkenhead, near Liverpool, two armored 
vessels for the Confederate government. They were to 
be furnished with powerful engines, and capable of great 
speed. When completed, they were to proceed to a small, 
unfrequented British island in the West Indies, where 
they were to be delivered to the agents of the Confed- 
eracy. They were then to receive their armament, pre- 
viously sent thither, take their crews on board, and then 
set forth on their piratical cruises, after the example of 
the Alabama. After sweeping our remaining commerce 
from the seas, by burning and sinking every merchant- 
ship bearing our flag, they were to come upon our own 
coast, scatter our blockading fleet, and open all the South- 
ern ports to British commerce, which would no longer 
be required to take the great risk of breaking the block- 
ade. This feat was to be accomplished by vessels which 
had never entered a Confederate port, nor, indeed, any 
harbor which was not covered by the British or some 
other flag which protected the iron-clads against pursuit 
or capture by vessels of the United States navy. 

Greater danger than these vessels never threatened 
the safety of the Union. In tonnage, armament, and 
speed they were intended to be superior to the Kearsarge 
and every vessel of our navy. Their armor was supposed 
to render them invulnerable. If the blockade was not 
maintained, an immediate recognition of the belligerent 
character of the rebels by Great Britain was anticipated. 
Even if that did not take place, all the cotton gathered 
in Confederate ports would be released and find a prof- 



198 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

itable market ; while the old wooden vessels, now prin- 
cipally constituting the blockading fleet, would not resist 
one of these iron-clad vessels long enough for a second 
broadside. 

The impending danger was fully appreciated by Mr. 
Adams. With his accustomed energy, notwithstanding 
the secrecy in which all the Confederate movements in 
Great Britain were shrouded, he had collected and laid be- 
fore the English authorities clear proofs of the rebel own- 
ership and intended unlawful purpose of these vessels. 
He had even procured copies of the contracts under which 
the Messrs. Laird were building them, and had ascertained 
the fact that payments on their account had been made 
from proceeds of cotton owned by the Confederacy. He 
had represented that the evidence furnished by him, ver- 
ified by the oaths of credible witnesses, was sufficient 
not only to justify their seizure, but to secure their con- 
demnation in the courts, and he had insisted, with a force 
apparently unanswerable, that it was the duty of Great 
Britain to prevent the vessels from leaving the Mersey, 
and setting forth upon their piratical career. 

But, unfortunately, the sympathies of the party in 
power in England were not with the Union cause. It 
suited the view of the law-officers of the crown not to 
interfere, and to excuse their inaction by raising objec- 
tions to the legal sufficiency of the evidence. The situ- 
ation was perfectly comprehended by the President and 
his Cabinet, but remonstrance appeared to be unavailing, 
and the departure of the vessels was expected at an 
early day. 

Hopeless as the task appeared to be, neither Mr. Ad- 
ams nor his active agents relaxed their efforts for a mo- 
ment. Their recent investigations had been prosecuted 
with such energy that the minister had finally been able 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 199 

to furnish the British premier with the sworn affidavits 
of some of the officers and men actually enlisted in Liv- 
erpool and other English cities for service on these ves- 
sels ; that the advance payments to these men had been 
made by Confederate agents ; that the ships were to leave 
the Mersey at an early appointed date for an island near 
Bermuda ; that their guns and ammunition had already 
been sent thither. Mr. Adams had also secured the 
names of several of the ship's officers, with copies of 
their commissions, bearing the signature of President 
Davis and the seal of the Confederacy. 

The last instalment of affidavits forwarded by our 
minister proved to be more than the crown lawyers 
could digest. They covered every defect named in their 
former objections ; they could not be answered even by 
a special demurrer. They were reinforced by the caus- 
tic pen of Mr. Adams, whose argument so clearly point- 
ed out the duty of the English government in the prem- 
ises that it would obviously be regarded as conclusive by 
every one but these lawyers, who possessed the exclusive 
power to move the slow authorities of the customs to 
action. The crown lawyers finally decided that the de- 
mand of Mr. Adams must be complied with, and that an 
order must issue, prohibiting the departure of these ves- 
sels from the Mersey, until the charges of the American 
minister had been judicially investigated. 

There were, however, some incidents attending this 
most important decision which prevented its communi- 
cation from giving to Mr. Adams a satisfaction wholly 
unalloyed. The decision had been withheld until the 
vessels were on the very eve of departure. The order 
must be immediately served, and possession taken by 
the customs authorities, or the vessels would escape. 
The crown lawyers, properly enough, observed that the 



200 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

affidavits furnished by Mr. Adams were ex parte the 
witnesses had not been cross-examined. If Mr. Adams 
should fail to prove his charges by evidence which would 
satisfy the judicial mind, and the vessels be released, the 
damages caused by arresting them might be very heavy. 
It was a settled rule of procedure in the courts in such 
cases to secure the payment of such damages beyond 
any peradventure. The restraining order would, there- 
fore, be issued, but it would not be enforced against the 
vessels until these damages had been secured by a de- 
posit of 1,000,000 sterling in gold coin. 

The situation was well known to be critical. Within 
three days the vessels were to sail for their destination ; 
if necessary, they might sail forthwith. The cable was 
useless broken or disabled and Mr. Adams could not 
communicate with his own government. Without such 
communication he had no authority to bind his govern- 
ment as an indemnitor, or to repay the money if he could 
borrow it. Even if he had the fullest authority, where 
was the patriotic Briton who would furnish a million 
pounds on the spur of the moment to a government which 
was believed by the party in power in Great Britain to 
be in articulo mortis f Unless, therefore, the crown 
lawyers supposed our minister to have anticipated their 
decision by providing himself with this money, they 
must have known that this condition could not be com- 
plied with, and that they might just as well have de- 
clined to interfere. If they had intended that these 
ships should not be prevented from making their intend- 
ed crusade against our commerce and our cause, no bet- 
ter arrangement could possibly have been devised. It 
is not to be denied that suspicions existed that such was 
their purpose. 

But the unexpected sometimes happens. The event 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 201 

which prevented these floating engines of destruction 
from entering upon their intended work was as unan- 
ticipated as a miracle. It constituted, possibly, the most 
signal service ever rendered by a citizen of one country 
to the government of another. It was all the more no- 
ble because it was intended to be anonymous. The em- 
inently unselfish man who performed it made a positive 
condition that it should not be made public ; that not 
so much as his name should be disclosed, except to the 
officers of our government, whose co-operation was re- 
quired, in order to transact the business in a proper man- 
ner and upon correct principles. So earnest was his in- 
junction of secrecy that his identity will not even now 
be disclosed, although he has long since gone to his re- 
ward. 

Within the hour after the crown lawyers' decision, 
with its conditions, had been made known to Mr. Adams, 
and when he had given up all hope of arresting these 
vessels, a quiet gentleman called upon him and asked if 
he might be favored with the opportunity of making 
the deposit of coin required by the order ? He observed 
" that it had occurred to him that, if the United States 
had that amount to its credit in London, some question 
of authority might arise, or Mr. Adams might otherwise 
be embarrassed in complying with the condition, espe- 
cially as communication with his government might 
involve delay ; so that the shortest way to avoid all diffi- 
culty would be for him to deposite the coin, which he 
was quite prepared to do." 

Had a messenger descended from the skies in a chariot 
of fire, with $5,000,000 in gold in his hands, and offered 
to leave it at the embassy without any security, Mr. 
Adams could not have been more profoundly surprised. 
He had accepted the condition as fatal to his efforts; 



202 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

he had concluded that nothing short of a miracle could 
prevent the departure of the vessels ; and here, if not a 
miracle, was something much like one. He made no 
secret of the pleasure with which he accepted the mu- 
nificent offer, provided some method of securing the 
liberal Englishman could be found. The latter seemed 
indisposed to make any suggestions on the subject. " It 
might be proper," he said, " that some obligation should 
be entered into, showing that the American government 
recognized the deposit as made on its account ; beyond 
that he should leave the matter wholly in the hands of 
Mr. Adams." 

The existing premium on gold was then about sixty 
per cent, in the United States. It would have been 
largely increased by the departure of these iron-clads. 
The "five-twenties" or "sixes" of 1861, as they were 
popularly called, were then being issued, and were the 
only securities upon "long time" then authorized by 
Congress. The best arrangement that occurred to Mr. 
Adams, and which he then proposed, was that $10,000,000, 
or 2,000,000, in these bonds, to be held as collateral se- 
curity for the loan of <!, 000,000 in gold, should be de- 
livered to the lender, to be returned when the loan was 
paid, or the order itself was discharged and the coin re- 
turned to the depositor. The proposition of Mr. Adams 
was satisfactory to the gentleman, but he said that to 
prevent the disclosure of his name the deposit should be 
made in coupon and not in registered bonds. The cou- 
pons were payable to bearer; the registered were re- 
quired to be inscribed on the books of the Treasury in 
the owner's name. Mr. Adams then volunteered the as- 
surance that these bonds, to the amount of $10,000,000, 
should be transmitted to London by the first steamer 
which left New York after his despatch concerning the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 203 

transaction was received in the State Department at 
"Washington. 

It was this assurance of Mr. Adams which the Presi- 
dent and both of the secretaries desired should be made 
good. They regarded the faith of the government as 
pledged for its performance, and that faith they pro- 
posed should not be violated. 

All the details of this transaction were not then dis- 
closed. They reached the government in private, con- 
fidential despatches from Mr. Adams, some of them long 
afterwards. The despatch in question was understood 
to be confidential ; certainly that part of it which re- 
lated to the deposit and security proposed. It was 
necessarily brief, for in order to reach the steamer the 
special messenger had to leave London within a very 
few hours after the proposition of the deposit was made. 
There was enough in it to show that an inestimable 
service had been rendered to the country by some one 
to whom Mr. Adams had pledged the faith of the nation 
for the transmission of these bonds by the next steamer 
which left New York. There was no dissent from the 
conclusion that the pledge of Mr. Adams, if it were in 
the power of the government, must be performed. 

The transmission of the securities of the United States 
to London, in large amounts, would be a very different 
problem now, after the subsequent experience of the 
Treasury in such transactions. Now, the blank bonds 
would be taken on board an ocean steamer in the cus- 
tody of officers authorized to prepare, sign, and issue 
them, and the entire labor could be performed on the 
voyage. In 1862, the Treasury had had no such experi- 
ence, and in the brief time spared for consultation there 
was no way of meeting the emergency suggested, ex- 
cept the regular process of filling up, signing, and seal- 



204: RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ing the bonds within the Treasury, entering them upon 
the proper books, and delivering them as perfected ob- 
ligations of the United States. 

No time was wasted in discussion. It was suggested 
as a precautionary measure that a request to delay the 
sailing of the steamer should be made, and the consulta- 
tion ended. It may as well be mentioned here that the 
effort to secure delay was unsuccessful. It could not be 
complied with except with the consent of the officers of 
the company in Liverpool, and they could not be reached 
by cable. The steamer would sail at twelve o'clock on 
Monday. 

It was next ascertained that only $7,500,000 in coupon 
bonds of the denomination of $1000 had been printed. 
The remaining $2,500,000 must be made up from de- 
nominations of $500. This involved an increase of two 
thousand five hundred, making an aggregate of twelve 
thousand five hundred bonds to be signed between twelve 
o'clock on Friday and four o'clock A.M. on Monday. 

The theory of the statute which required a bond to be 
signed by the head of the bureau from which it issued 
originally was that the signature was some safeguard 
against forgery, was an evidence of authenticity, and a 
check against unauthorized issues. In issues of so large 
amounts as were made during the war, it was found to 
have a trifling if any value. But the labor imposed was 
continuous and severe ; in the present instance it became 
dangerous to health and life ; for there is no muscular 
exertion more severe, certainly none so inexpressibly 
dreary, as that of writing one's own name hour after 
hour, day after day, over and over again. Such, how- 
ever, was the law ; it was necessary to the legality of 
the issue that all the requirements of the law should be 
complied with. It will be seen in this instance at what 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 205 

cost obedience to this provision of the statute was se- 
cured. 

When the bond issues of the Treasury required an 
average of two or three thousand signatures daily, every 
means of doing the work rapidly was necessarily em- 
ployed. The signature itself was changed. If each in- 
itial letter had been written separately, in the ordinary 
way, the day was not long enough to finish the task. 
The whole name was then written at a single movement, 
without raising the pen from the paper, or once arrest- 
ing its motion. The bonds were laid before the officer 
in piles ; the instant the pen was raised at the end of the 
name, an experienced messenger removed the bond, leav- 
ing another exposed for signature. In this way it was 
possible to write ten signatures in a minute. If any one 
is inclined to doubt the rapidity or the exertion involved 
in doing this, he is advised to try the experiment. 

In the present instance the register knew from ex- 
perience that serious work was before him, which would 
affect his health, and might endanger his life. He en- 
deavored to set about it with judgment and discretion. 
He called in an experienced army surgeon, informed him 
that he intended to continue to sign his name for just as 
many consecutive hours as his strength would permit ; 
that he was desired to remain in constant attendance, 
administering such food and stimulants as would secure 
endurance for the longest possible time. The necessary 
supplies were procured, the arrangements perfected, and 
the register was ready to begin his work at twelve 
o'clock on Friday. 

The first seven hours passed without any unusual 
sensations. He had signed for that length of time so 
frequently that it had become a custom to which the 
muscles had adapted themselves, so that they worked 



206 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

uncomplainingly. In these first seven hours three thou- 
sand seven hundred signatures were made. But within 
the first half of the eighth hour there were evidences of 
great muscular discontent, which soon threatened to 
break out into open rebellion. As the time slowly wore 
on, in the forenoon of Saturday, every muscle on the 
right side connected with the movement of the hand 
and arm became inflamed, and the pain was almost be- 
yond endurance. It was necessary to continue the work, 
for if it should be suspended for any considerable length 
of time the inflammation might become so great that 
control over the motion of the arm and its further use 
would become impossible. In the slight pauses which 
were made, rubbing, the application of hot water, and 
other remedies were resorted to, in order to alleviate 
the pain and reduce the inflammation. They were com- 
paratively ineffectual, and the hours dragged on without 
bringing much relief. 

During the course of Saturday afternoon the acute- 
ness of the pain sensibly diminished. The muscles, find- 
ing that resistance was unavailing, had to give up the 
contest. A series of sensations followed which, though 
less difficult to endure, were still more alarming. A 
feeling of numbness commenced in the hand, and slowly 
crept up the arm to the shoulder, producing an effect as 
if the hand and arm were dead. With this came a dis- 
tortion of the fingers, so that the pen, instead of being 
held in the usual manner, was placed between the first 
finger and the thumb. It might have been expected 
that this condition of the muscles would have changed 
the form of the signature. It did not to any great ex- 
tent. The constant repetition of the same movements 
seemed to result in their continuance, independently of 
the will. The signature was still a fair one. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 207 

It is unnecessary to describe all the details of the de- 
vices and means resorted to to prevent sleep and to con- 
tinue the work. Changes of position, violent exercise, 
going out into the open air and walking rapidly for ten 
minutes, concentrated extracts, prepared food, stimulants 
more in kind and number than can now be recalled 
every imaginable means was employed during the night 
of Saturday. Notwithstanding their use with a liberal 
hand, it became evident that weakness was gradually 
asserting itself, and that the time was approaching when 
the work must cease from pure exhaustion. The surgeon 
decided that within two or three hours at the latest the 
strength would give out, and that the time had come 
when the officer should resign, and another register be 
appointed. 

It is quite probable that the long-continued exertion 
had to some extent influenced the mind of the register, 
and that his objections to the change proposed were 
more imaginary than real. The names of two registers 
appearing on the same issue of bonds was an apparent 
irregularity which might require explanations and in- 
volve delay. Calling on the President to appoint an- 
other register on Sunday was, to say the least, an im- 
propriety which would excite public comment, even if 
the act itself were legal, of which some doubt was enter- 
tained. It was four o'clock on Sunday morning ; only 
a few more than two thousand signatures would com- 
plete the labor. The register determined he would 
finish the task, although the surgeon earnestly advised 
him that it would involve a considerable danger to his 
fife. 

I have not had at any time since a very accurate 
memory of the events of that Sunday morning. That I 
could not remain in the same position for more than a 



208 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

few moments, that the bonds were carried from desk to 
table and from place to place to enable me to make ten 
signatures at a time, that my fingers and hand were 
twisted and drawn out of their natural shape these 
and other facts are faintly remembered. The memory 
is more distinct that at about twelve o'clock, noon, the 
last bond was reached and signed, and the work was 
finished, the last hundred bonds requiring more time 
than the first thousand. One fact I have special cause 
to remember. This abuse of muscular energy eventu- 
ally caused my resignation from the Treasury, and cost 
me several years of physical pain. 

After the bonds were signed I suffered more than at 
any other time during the process. My nervous system 
was so thoroughly shattered that during the night of 
Sunday sleep was impossible. On Monday night, after 
three full days and nights during which I had not lost 
consciousness for a moment, I fell asleep from pure ex- 
haustion. My subsequent experience can only be in- 
teresting to myself; certainly not to the general reader. 

The bonds reached the steamer in time, and the 
promise of our minister was faithfully kept. But in 
the meantime Mr. Adams had given notice to the au- 
thorities of his readiness to make the deposit, and then 
some disposition of the matter was made, which avoided 
the necessity of making it. "What this disposition was, 
I do not know ; but it was understood at the time, by 
Secretary Chase, to have been made without the knowl- 
edge or privity of our minister. From the published 
statements at the time it appeared that no effort to de- 
liver the vessels was made after the objections of the 
government were made known. In fact the iron-clads 
were shortly after sold to one of the Eastern powers, and 
their field of operations was the Mediterranean instead 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 209 

of the American coasts. The ability of Mr. Adams to 
comply with the condition and furnish the security was 
accepted as the end of the controversy. It is known 
that a few months later $6,000,000 of the $10,000,000 
of the bonds issued were returned to the Treasury in the 
original packages, with the seals of the Treasury un- 
broken. The remaining $4,000,000 were afterwards 
sold for the benefit of the Treasury. 

Many years elapsed before the register atoned for 
this violation of natural laws, which never fail to punish 
those who break them. "While he remained in office 
there was no day in which he was not reminded by a 
sharp rheumatic twinge of the events of that Sunday 
morning. After he had left the Treasury there were 
five long years in which he could never promise that he 
could perform any professional labor at any fixed date 
in the future. 

The issue of these bonds afforded an opportunity for 
some measurements, showing the great bulk of paper 
used in the whole issue of $513,000,000. I did not leave 
the Treasury that Sunday morning until I had seen these 
measurements made. The denominations of the coupon 
"five -twenties" were "fifties," "one hundreds," "five 
hundreds," and " one thousands." Of the registered the 
denominations were the same, with the addition of " five 
thousands " and " ten thousands." Only a small fraction 
of the issue was registered, and the certificates used were 
ordinarily " one thousand " and under. The twelve thou- 
sand five hundred bonds, representing $10,000,000 of the 
present issue, were a reasonably accurate average of the 
whole issue. These $10,000,000 were made into pack- 
ages of $1,000,000 each, of the same length and breadth 
of the bonds themselves, one bond being laid, without 
folding, upon another. Each package was covered with 
14 



210 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

one thickness of wrapping-paper, and then bound as close 
ly as possible with strong cord, rendering each package 
as thin as it could be made. The ten packages were 
then laid in a single pile, one above the other. They 
measured six feet four inches in height. From these 
data each one can compute for himself the height of the 
pile of paper used in an issue of $513,000,000. 

Since the publication of the foregoing facts in Harper's 
Magazine for May, 1890, I have been solicited by many 
correspondents to give the name of the gentleman who 
offered to perform such a signal service to our country. 
It must be obvious that nothing could give me greater 
pleasure than to publish his name, and to secure for him 
the enduring gratitude of the American people. I have, 
however, a special reason for my present determination 
not to disclose it, nor to permit myself to speculate upon 
the consequences of the disclosure. When we were in- 
formed that the emergency had passed, it became neces- 
sary to make a change in the entries of this large 
amount upon the books of the register. This was found 
to be a difficult matter, unless a plain statement of the 
issue, to the gentleman in question, and its purpose, was 
made with its subsequent cancellation. This course I 
proposed to Secretary Chase. He was decided in his 
opinion that the value of the service would not have 
been enhanced if an actual deposit of the money had 
been required, and that, as the gentleman himself had 
imposed the obligation, he was the only authority who 
could possibly release it. "While I regarded his conclu- 
sion as incontrovertible, I did suggest that our first duty 
was the official one, to our own obligation to conceal 
nothing, and to make our official records strictly conform 
to the fact. 

" We should have thought of that at the time," said 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 211 

the secretary. "We might have declined his offer, 
coupled as it was with the obligation to conceal his 
name. But I do not remember that we considered that 
question. Do you ?" 

" No," I said. " Nothing was discussed in my pres- 
ence except the possibility of compliance with his con- 
ditions, to the letter." 

" Then, I think, we must continue to keep his secret, 
whatever the consequences may be, until he releases 
us from the obligation," was the final conclusion of the 
secretary. 

I am, I believe, the only survivor of those to whom 
this gentleman's name was known. I have hitherto de- 
clined to discuss the question of his name or its dis- 
closure. I depart from my practice far enough to say 
that I do not believe he was interested in the price of 
cotton, or that he was moved in the slightest degree by 
pecuniary motives, in making his offer. More than this, 
at present, I do not think I have the moral right to say. 
If I should at any time hereafter see my way clear to a 
different conclusion, I shall leave his name to be com- 
municated to the Secretary of the Treasury, who will 
determine for himself the propriety of its disclosure. 



XXYI. 

PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S CONNECTION WITH THE ORIGIN OF AR- 
MORED VESSELS. HIS FAITH IN IRON-CLADS. THE INFLU- 
ENCE OF ASSISTANT-SECRETARY FOX. HIS INTERVIEW WITH 
THE PRESIDENT ON THE 7TH OF MARCH, 1862. 

So many of the facts involved in the origin of armored 
or iron-clad vessels are in controversy, that it is a delicate 
matter now to meddle with the subject. But President 
Lincoln was a factor in this, as he was in all the great 
improvements made in the naval and military service 
during his administration. To understand how far he 
promoted the introduction of iron-clad vessels, it is nec- 
essary to give some facts as they were understood and 
acted upon by the President and others at the time, with- 
out much regard to their bearing upon other interests or 
questions. 

Suggestions of the necessity of armored vessels for 
harbor defence were strongly pressed by Major Robert 
Anderson, very soon after he arrived in Washington from 
Fort Sumter. He reported that one of the Confederate 
batteries in Charleston harbor was covered with bars of 
railroad iron, in such a way that the guns of the fort 
made no impression upon it. Having learned from ex- 
perience that a battery so protected was impregnable, 
and there being no reason why like armor could not be 
applied to a floating as well as to a land battery, Major 
Anderson argued that the Confederates would almost 
certainly undertake the construction of iron-clad ves- 
sels, and if we were not provided with similar vessels 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 213 

to resist them, they would take and hold possession of 
our navigable rivers and harbors, and so inflict an irre- 
mediable injury on our seaport cities and their commerce. 
The action of the Confederate Congress in May, in ap- 
pointing a commission to adopt plans for raising the 
Merrimac, then sunk in Norfolk harbor, and her con- 
version into an armored vessel, added force to the views 
of Major Anderson, and produced a strong impression 
upon Mr. "Welles, our Secretary of the Navy, and one at 
least of his most competent subordinates. Gustavus Y. 
Fox was one of the President's favorites. He had ac- 
quired Mr. Lincoln's confidence by his intelligent views 
relating to the proposed reinforcement of Fort Sumter, 
immediately after the inauguration, and had accepted 
the office of Assistant Secretary of the Navy at his spe- 
cial request. He was an experienced retired naval offi- 
cer, he possessed attractive personal qualities, his judg- 
ment was conservative, and he was always a welcome 
guest at the Executive Mansion. I was so fortunate as 
to have secured his friendship, and I have made several 
visits to the President in his company. On one of these 
visits, in May, I heard the President ask Mr. Fox his 
opinion of armored vessels, and of Major Anderson's 
suggestion. Mr. Fox replied, in substance, that the sub- 
ject was under active consideration in the Navy Depart- 
ment, but that it was novel ; it was very important, and 
though generally impressed with the practicability of 
such vessels, he was not yet prepared to commit him- 
self to any fixed opinion. The President, somewhat ear- 
nestly, observed that " we must not let the rebels get 
ahead of us in such an important matter," and asked 
what Mr. Fox regarded as the principal difficulty in the 
way of their use. Mr. Fox replied that naval officers 
doubted their stability, and feared that an armor heavy 



214 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

enough to make them effective, would sink them as soon 
as they were launched. " But is not that a sum in arith- 
metic ?" quickly asked the President. " On our Western 
rivers we can figure just how many tons will sink a flat- 
boat. Can't your clerks do the same for an armored 
vessel?" 

" I suppose they can," replied Mr. Fox. " But there 
are other difficulties. With such a weight, a single shot, 
piercing the armor, would sink the vessel so quickly that 
no one could escape." 

" Now, as the very object of the armor is to get some- 
thing that the best projectile cannot pierce, that objec- 
tion does not appear to be sound," said the President. 

Mr. Fox again observed that the subject was under 
active examination, and he hoped soon to be able to con- 
sider it intelligently, and the conversation turned upon 
other matters. 

When we left the White House, Mr. Fox observed 
that the President appeared to be deeply interested in 
the subject of iron-clads ; that it was most important, 
but it was new, and would encounter all the prejudices 
of the naval service. But its importance was such that 
its investigation would be pressed as fast as possible, with 
a view of at least trying the experiment. 

Within a few days there was a rumor that the Bureau 
of Construction in the Navy Department, through the 
influence of Mr. Fox, was engaged upon plans for an 
iron-clad vessel. As soon as Congress met, on the 4th 
of July, a bill was introduced which authorized the Sec- 
retary of the Navy to appoint a Board of Construction 
of three naval officers, to whom the plans for an iron- 
clad vessel were to be submitted, and, if the board ap- 
proved them, the secretary was authorized to contract 
for its construction. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 215 

It was a matter of common knowledge that Cornelius 
S. Bushnell, of Connecticut, a friend of the secretary's, 
was the promoter of the bill, and that through his act- 
ive labors the bill passed Congress and became a law in 
the early days of August. The board was immediately 
appointed. It consisted of Commodore Paulding, Admi- 
ral Smith, and Captain Davis. The board approved the 
plans ; the contract was given to Mr. Bushnell for the 
first iron-clad built on the "Western Continent. She was 
to be built at Mystic, Connecticut, and to be completed 
as speedily as possible. She was to be called the Galena, 
and as many workmen as could find room were at work 
upon her hull before the ink of the signatures to the con- 
tract was fairly dry. 

In the autumn there was a great newspaper outcry 
over the Galena. The Department, the contractor, ev- 
erybody concerned, was charged with peculation and 
fraud. It was asserted that the Galena would do every- 
thing a good ship ought not, and nothing that such a 
vessel ought to do ; that she had no stability, that she 
would not stand up, that she would not answer her rud- 
der, that she would not resist even grape-shot, that she 
would sink like a bar of lead the moment she was launched. 
The President and Secretary Fox were the only officers 
of the government who would speak a good word for 
the Galena. Even the contractor was despondent, and 
almost lost faith in the vessel. 

It was at this time that the name of Captain Ericsson 
was first heard in connection with an iron-clad vessel. 
The rumor was that he had pronounced in favor of the 
Galenas plans, her stability, and her ability to resist a 
six-pound shot, etc., and had furnished contractor Bush- 
nell with plans for a vessel which would resist the im- 
pact of any projectile which could be thrown by any 



216 RECOLLECTIONS. OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

gun then invented. It was called a floating battery. 
Mr. Bushnell had presented these plans to the Board of 
Construction, and the board had rejected them. He had 
then carried them to the President, whose decision upon 
them was expressed in a very pointed story, many times 
since repeated, but almost invariably with the point 
omitted. What the President said, after the plans were 
exhibited and explained to him, was, "As the darkey 
said, in putting on his boot, into which some one had 
put a Canada thistle, ' I guess dar's something in it.' " 

There is no doubt that, after Captain Ericsson's plans 
had been submitted to the Board of Construction, and 
the captain had been induced to visit Washington and 
explain them, that the President became the warm ad- 
vocate of the construction of his proposed battery, as it 
was then called. Captain Fox was the adviser upon 
whom he principally relied. There were several ses- 
sions of the Board of Construction ; Captain Davis, who 
had strongly opposed the project, finally gave way, mak- 
ing the board unanimous, and the contract was awarded 
to Mr. Bushnell, and Messrs. Corning, Winslow, & Gris- 
wold, his associates. It is only just to Mr. Bushnell to 
say that, in all the preliminary work of clearing away the 
obstructions, securing the co-operation of the President, 
and overcoming the objections of the board, he alone 
was known, and that when the contract was awarded 
it was understood in Washington to have been secured 
through the labor and energy of Mr. Bushnell. The 
contract required the greatest practicable expedition in 
completing the vessel, and the contractors pushed the 
work with great energy. The Monitor, with her en- 
gines on board, was launched on the 30th of January, 
and, to the great disappointment of those who had op- 
posed the experiment, instead of sinking, as they had 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 217 

predicted, she drew less water by some inches than Cap- 
tain Ericsson had calculated. 

Her battery was put on board, and she was fitted for 
sea with the greatest possible expedition. Captain Fox 
had daily reliable reports from Norfolk. The Merrimac 
was also rapidly approaching completion, and when she 
was reported to be ready for use the Monitor was still 
in the waters of New York harbor. It was not until 
the 27th of February that she put to sea, in an unfin- 
ished state, without having made the usual trips, for some 
unknown destination. 

Early on Friday morning, March 7th, Secretary Fox 
invited me to accompany him in a call he was about to 
make, by appointment, upon President Lincoln. Captain 
Fox was an officer of infinite coolness and self-command. 
He did not exhibit the slightest evidence of emotion or 
apprehension while unfolding to me a story which gave 
me great uneasiness during the next three days. No 
one else was present at our interview with the President, 
and I cannot now undertake to give the precise words 
used, but the substance of the conversation I shall prob- 
ably never forget. It was obvious that the President 
had received a recent communication from Captain Fox, 
and had been informed of the object of his visit. The 
latter observed that, from his latest information, which 
he believed was reliable, he did not expect that the Mer- 
rimac would make her appearance before Sunday, the 
9th of March. She might, however, come out at any 
time, for her engines appeared to be working well at the 
dock, and, so far as his agent could discover, her armor 
was completed, and the work still going on was not con- 
nected with her motive-power or with her batteries. He 
said that he intended to leave the city immediately, for 
he wanted to be there when she made her attack. He 



218 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

asked the President whether he had any further sugges- 
tions or instructions, and received a negative reply. Af- 
ter some general conversation, in which the President 
said but few words, Captain Fox, quite in his ordinary 
tone, observed that he supposed that the President was 
prepared for very disastrous results from the expected 
encounter. "No," said Mr. Lincoln; "why should I 
be ? We have three of our most effective war-vessels in 
Hampton Roads, and any number of small craft that 
will hang on to the stern of the Merrimac like small 
dogs on the haunches of a bear. They may not be able 
to tear her down, but they will interfere with the com- 
fort of her voyage. Her trial-trip will not be a pleasure- 
trip, I am certain." 

" I think you do not take into account all the possi- 
bilities of the Merrimac" said Captain Fox. " True, she 
may break down, she may accomplish nothing, she may 
not be shot-proof, but she will be commanded by a skilled 
naval officer. The engineers who have had charge of 
her construction are as competent as any in their pro- 
fession. If they risk her in action, you may be sure she 
will do good work." 

" Suppose she does. Have we not three good ships 
against her ?" 

" But if she proves invulnerable ?" persisted the cap- 
tain. " Suppose our heaviest shot and shell rebound 
from her armor as harmless as rubber balls? Suppose 
she strikes our ships, one after the other, with her ram, 
and opens a hole in them as large as a barn-door or a 
turnpike gate ? Suppose they are powerless to resist her, 
and she sinks them all in a half -hour ?" 

"You are looking for great disasters, captain," said 
the President, with a smile. " We have had a big share 
of bad luck already, but I dp not believe the future 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 219 

has any such misfortunes in store for us as you antici- 
pate." 

" I anticipate nothing which may not happen from 
the coming encounter," said Captain Fox, "nor have 
I mentioned the worst possibilities. If the Merrimac 
proves invulnerable, if she meets the expectations of her 
officers, although she may not be able to go outside the 
capes, she can do an immense damage without going to 
sea. If she sinks our ships, who is to prevent her drop- 
ping her anchor in the Potomac, where that steamer lies," 
pointing to a steamer at anchor below the long bridge, 
" and throwing her hundred-pound shells into this room, 
or battering down the walls of the Capitol ?" 

"The Almighty, captain," answered the President, 
decidedly, but without the least affectation. " I expect 
set-backs, defeats ; we have had them, and shall have 
them. They are common to all wars. But I have not 
the slightest fear of any result which shall fatally impair 
our military and naval strength, or give other powers 
any right to interfere in our quarrel. The destruction 
of the Capitol would do both. I do not fear it, for this 
is God's fight, and he will win it in his own good time. 
He will take care that our enemies do not push us too 
far." 

" I do most sincerely hope you are right, Mr. Presi- 
dent," said Captain Fox, " but it is my duty, as one of 
your officers, to use to the best advantage my own judg- 
ment as well as the materials which the country places 
in our hands. The iron-clad is a new element in naval 
warfare. We know neither its power nor its effective- 
ness. It is prudent to fear what we do not understand. 
It is perfectly natural for naval officers to distrust the 
iron-clad. Frankly, we cannot even guess what the 
Merrimac will do." 



220 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

" Speaking of iron-clads, you do not seem to take our 
little Monitor into the account," said the President. 
"I believe in the Monitor, and her commander. If 
Captain Worden does not give a good account of the 
Monitor and of himself, I shall have made a mistake in 
following my judgment for the first time since I have 
been here, captain. I have not made a mistake in fol- 
lowing my clear judgment of men since this war began. 
I followed that judgment when I gave Worden the com- 
mand of the Monitor. I would make the appointment 
over again to-day. The Monitor should be in Hampton 
Koads now. She left New York eight days ago." 

" It is not prudent to place any reliance on the Moni- 
tor" responded the captain; " she is an experiment, wholly 
untried. She may be already at the bottom of the ocean. 
She may be at anchor somewhere, disabled. We know 
nothing about her. She may not have stood heavy 
weather at all, and we have had strong gales since she 
sailed. She is very liable to break down ; she went to 
sea without one thorough trial-trip, when she should 
have had several. We ought not to be disappointed if 
she does not reach the mouth of the James. If she ar- 
rives, she may break down with the firing of her first 
gun, or be sunk or disabled by the first gun from the 
enemy. The clear dictate of prudence is to place no 
reliance on her, and if she proves of service, give the 
credit to our good fortune." 

" No, no, captain," said the President, with more em- 
phasis than he had previously used ; " I respect your 
judgment, as you have good reason to know, but this 
time you are all wrong. The Monitor was one of my 
inspirations ; I believed in her firmly when that ener- 
getic contractor first showed me Ericsson's plans. Cap- 
tain Ericsson's plain but rather enthusiastic demonstra- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 221 

tion made my conversion permanent. It was called a 
floating battery then ; I called it a raft. I caught some 
of the inventor's enthusiasm, and it has been growing 
upon me. I thought then, and I am confident now, it 
is just what we want. I am sure that the Monitor is 
still afloat, and that she will yet give a good account of 
herself. Sometimes I think she may be the veritable 
sling with a stone that shall yet smite the Merrimao 
Philistine in the forehead." 

There was more of the conversation, but I do not 
know that it would further illustrate the attitude or the 
confidence of the President. We took our leave, and 
walked to the west entrance of the Treasury slowly 
and in silence. At the door the assistant secretary said, 
" Is not our Lincoln the truest man, an example of the 
most genuine manhood, you have ever seen of whom 
you have ever read ? How sincere he is ! He seems to 
have imparted some of his faith to me. I have avoided 
reliance upon the Monitor. Perhaps she may yet prove 
the good angel who will take us out of the Slough of 
Despond." 

"We separated ; I to the labors of forty-eight slow and 
anxious hours, he to witness the battle which changed 
all the conditions of naval warfare. 



XXYIL 

PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S CONFIDENCE IN ARMORED VESSELS CON- 
TINUED. THE MONITOR AND HER BATTLE WITH THE HER- 
RIM AC DESCRIBED BY CAPTAIN WORDEN. 

SATURDAY, March 8th, was a day of calamities. The 
news came over the wires that the Merrimac had come 
out of Norfolk, attended by a numerous body-guard of 
smaller vessels, and at one o'clock was leisurely entering 
upon her brief career of destruction. Within two hours 
we knew that projectiles from our heaviest guns had re- 
alized the apprehensions of Captain Fox, by rebounding 
from her uninjured side like rubber balls ; that she had 
sent the fine sloop-of-war, the Cumberland, to the bot- 
tom of the James Eiver ; that she had torn the frigate 
Congress in pieces with her shot and shell, and left her 
a grounded wreck on the shore ; that two brave ships' 
companies had been immolated to the demon of rebel- 
lion, and that the iron-clad destroyer, satisfied with her 
labors for that afternoon, had retired into the harbor of 
Norfolk, leaving our third and most valuable frigate, 
the Minnesota, aground and ready for the next morning's 
sacrifice. There had been no former day of such disas- 
ter. As I left the Treasury I involuntarily walked in 
the direction of the War Department, where I supposed 
the President would be found. At the door I met him 
returning to the Executive Mansion. 

He was as cheerful as he had been on the morning of 
the previous day. The battle was over for the day, he 
said, and the Merrimac had gone into port, probably to 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 

repair some temporary damages. Nothing had been 
heard from Captain Fox or the Monitor. He regretted 
deeply the loss of so many brave men ; our first lesson 
in the value of iron-clads for fighting purposes had been 
costly, but the Almighty ruled, and it would all come 
right somehow. I remember most distinctly, for it made 
a deep impression at the time, that he said that we should 
probably find that the Merrimac was at the end of her 
destructive mission, and would not sink another vessel. 

Aware that it would be useless to expect sleep that 
night, and anxious for news from Captain Fox, I returned 
late in the evening to the Navy Department. It was 
nearly midnight before his despatch came. It was in 
cipher, and, being translated, informed us that he reached 
Newport News about nine o'clock, and went immediately 
on board the Minnesota. Every one on the vessel was 
demoralized. She had been stripped; it had been de- 
cided to burn her, and in a few moments more the torch 
would have been applied. Captain Fox's arrival had saved 
the vessel. His inquiry whether it would not be wiser 
to wait until it was seen whether the Merrimac came out 
of Norfolk again before setting on fire the finest ship in 
the navy, and destroying property to the value of a mill- 
ion and a half of dollars, recalled the officers to their 
senses, and the conclusion to defer the application of the 
torch was speedily reached. I remained at the Depart- 
ment until after two o'clock, when, receiving no news 
from the Monitor nor any further despatches from Cap- 
tain Fox, all left the Naval Office for their respective 
homes. 

The next Sunday forenoon was as gloomy as any that 
"Washington had experienced since the beginning of the 
war. There was no excitement, but all seemed to be 
overwhelmed with despondency and vague apprehen- 



224 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

sion. I went to Dr. Gurley's church, where his audience 
was made still more uncomfortable by a very gloomy 
sermon. After service I called upon Secretary Chase. 
He had no news, and could give me no comfort. Since 
the President seemed to be the only officer of the gov- 
ernment who could see any hope in the future, I went 
to the War Office, where he was usually to be found 
when any serious fighting was going on. There I found 
him with quite a large party, including two members of 
his Cabinet. 

It was evident, from the general excitement, that news 
had been received from the James River. As I entered 
the room some one was saying, " Would it not be for- 
tunate if the Monitor should sink her?" "It would be 
nothing more than I have expected," calmly observed 
President Lincoln. "If she does not, something else 
will. Many providential things are happening in this 
war, and this may be one of them. The loss of two good 
ships is an expensive lesson, but it will teach us all the 
value of iron-clads. I have not believed at any time 
during the last twenty-four hours that the Merrimac 
would go right on destroying right and left without any 
obstruction. Since we knew that the Monitor had got 
there, I have felt that she was the vessel we wanted." I 
then learned that the Monitor had arrived at Fortress 
Monroe on Saturday evening ; without waiting for any 
preparation, she had steamed up to Newport News, 
and laid herself alongside the grounded Minnesota. The 
Merrimao had made her appearance shortly after day- 
light ; Captain Worden had promptly advanced to make 
her acquaintance, and had ever since been sticking to her 
closer than a brother. It was also reported that the two 
fighters had ever since been pounding each other terrific- 
ally, and that the Monitor as yet showed no signs of 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 225 

weakness. Time passes quickly in such an excitement. 
Very soon came a message that evoked cheers from 
everybody. Its substance was that the Merrimac had 
withdrawn, and was again steaming for Norfolk. Even 
this news, which stirred the enthusiasm of every one 
else, so that all burst into a long - continued volley of 
applause, did not seem to elate the President. " I am 
glad the Monitor has done herself credit for Worden's 
sake for all our sakes," was all he said. He then 
walked slowly to the White House. 

When Captain Fox returned, his graphic account of the 
battle was given to the press, and seemed to settle the 
policy of the country in relation to armored vessels. He 
gave the highest credit to Captain Worden and his second 
in command, Lieutenant Green. The fearlessness with 
which they advanced the Monitor to the attack, the persist- 
ence with which she clung to her enemy during all that 
long forenoon, turning away from her in a circuit only just 
large enough to give time to load her guns, he said was a 
grand exhibition of judgment, courage, and seamanship, 
beautifully responded to by the vessel in the ease with 
which she answered her helm, and the even, regular 
movement of her power. He had ordered the Monitor 
to Washington for repairs, he said, and convenience of 
inspection, for henceforth the energies of the Navy De- 
partment would be largely devoted to the building and 
equipment of monitors. 

Some weeks later we were the witnesses of a dramatic 
scene at the Navy Yard, on board the Monitor. The 
vessel came to Washington unchanged, in the same con- 
dition as when she discharged her parting shot at the 
Merrimac. There she lay until her heroic commander 
had so far recovered from his injuries as to be able to re- 
join his vessel. All leaves of absence had been revoked, 
15 



226 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

the absentees had returned, and were ready to welcome 
their captain. The President, Captain Fox, and a limited 
number of Captain Worden's personal friends had been in- 
vited to his informal reception. Lieutenant Green received 
the President and the guests. He was a boy in years, 
not too young to volunteer, however, when volunteers 
were scarce, and to fight the Merrimac during the last 
half of the battle, after the captain was disabled. Then, 
when the success and safety of the Monitor were both 
proved, an officer was promoted over his head, on the 
ground that he was too young to bear so great a re- 
sponsibility. This was a most unjust act, for which the 
Navy Department was never forgiven by the American 
people. 

The President and the other guests stood on the deck, 
near the turret. The men were formed in lines, with 
their officers a little in advance, when Captain "Worden 
ascended the gangway. The heavy guns in the Navy 
Yard began firing the customary salute when he stepped 
upon the deck. One side of his face was permanently 
blackened by the powder shot into it from the muzzle of 
a cannon carrying a shell of one hundred pounds' weight, 
discharged less than twenty yards away. The President 
advanced to welcome him, introduced him to the few 
strangers present, the officers and men passed in review 
and were dismissed. Then there was a scene worth wit- 
nessing. The old tars swarmed around their loved cap- 
tain, they grasped his hand, crowded to touch him, 
thanked God for his recovery and return, and invoked 
blessings upon his head in the name of all the saints in 
the calendar. He called them by their names, had a 
pleasant word for each of them, and for a few moments 
we looked upon an exhibition of a species of affection that 
could only have been the product of a common danger. 



AtfD HIS ADMlNlSTKATIOtf. 227 

When order was restored, the President gave a brief 
sketch of Captain Worden's career. Commodore Paul- 
ding had been the first, Captain Worden the second offi- 
cer of the navy, he said, to give an unqualified opinion 
in favor of armored vessels. Their opinions had been 
influential with him and with the Board of Construc- 
tion. Captain Worden had volunteered to take the 
command of the Monitor, at the risk of his life and 
reputation, before her keel was laid. He had watched 
her construction, and his energy had made it possible to 
send her to sea in time to arrest the destructive opera- 
tions of the Merrimac. What he had done with a new 
crew, and a vessel of novel construction, we all knew. 
He, the President, cordially acknowledged his indebted- 
ness to Captain Worden, and he hoped the whole country 
would unite in the feeling of obligation. The debt was 
a heavy one, and would not be repudiated when its nat- 
ure was understood. The details of the first battle be- 
tween iron-clads would interest every one. At the request 
of Captain Fox, Captain Worden had consented to give 
an account of his voyage from New York to Hampton 
Koads, and of what had afterwards happened there on 
board the Monitor. 

In an easy conversational manner, without any effort 
at display, Captain Worden told the story, of which the 
following is the substance : 

" I suppose," he began, " that every one knows that 
we left New York Harbor in some haste. We had in- 
formation that the Merrimac was nearly completed, and 
if we were to fight her on her first appearance, we must 
be on the ground. The Monitor had been hurried from 
the laying of her keel. Her engines were new, and her 
machinery did not move smoothly. Never was a vessel 
launched that so much needed trial trips, some of them 



228 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

to sea, to test her machinery, and get her crew accus- 
tomed to their novel duties. We went to sea practically 
without them. No part of the vessel was finished ; there 
was one omission that was serious, and came very near 
causing her failure and the loss of many lives. In heavy 
weather it was intended that her hatches and all her 
openings should be closed and battened down. In that 
case all the men would be below, and would have to 
depend upon artificial ventilation. Our machinery for 
that purpose proved wholly inadequate. 

" We were in a heavy gale of wind as soon as we 
passed Sandy Hook. The vessel behaved splendidly. 
The seas rolled over her, and we found her the most 
comfortable vessel we had ever seen, except for the ven- 
tilation, which gave us more trouble than I have time to 
tell you about. We had to run into port and anchor on 
account of the weather, and, as you know, it was two 
o'clock in the morning of Sunday before we were along- 
side the Minnesota. Captain Yan Brunt gave us an ac- 
count of Saturday's experience. He was very glad to 
make our acquaintance, and notified us that we must be 
prepared to receive the Merrimac at daylight. We had 
had a very hard trip down the coast, and officers and 
men were weary and sleepy. But when informed that 
our fight would probably open at daylight, and that the 
Monitor must be put in order, every man went to his 
post with a cheer. That night there was no sleep on 
board the Monitor. 

" In the gray of the early morning we saw a vessel 
approaching, which our friends on the Minnesota said 
was the Merrimac. Our fastenings were cast off, our 
machinery started, and we moved out to meet her half- 
way. We had come a long way to fight her, and did not 
intend to lose our opportunity. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 229 

" Before showing you over the vessel, let me say that 
there were three possible points of weakness in the 
Monitor, two of which might have been guarded against 
in her construction, if there had been more time to per- 
fect her plans. One of them was in the turret, which, 
as you see, is constructed of eight plates of inch iron on 
the side of the ports, nine set on end so as to break 
joints, and firmly bolted together, making a hollow cyl- 
inder eight inches thick. It rests on a metal ring on a 
vertical shaft, which is revolved by power from the boil- 
ers. If a projectile struck the turret at an acute angle, 
it was expected to glance off without doing damage. 
But what would happen if it was fired in a straight 
line to the centre of the turret, which in that case would 
receive the whole force of the blow? It might break 
off the bolt-heads on the interior, which, flying across, 
would kill the men at the guns ; it might disarrange 
the revolving mechanism, and then we would be wholly 
disabled. 

" I laid the Monitor close alongside the Merrimac, and 
gave her a shot. She returned our compliment by a 
shell, weighing one hundred and fifty pounds, fired when 
we were close together, which struck the turret so square- 
ly that it received the whole force. Here you see the 
scar, two and a half inches deep in the wrought iron, a 
perfect mould of the shell. If anything could test the 
turret, it was that shot. It did not start a rivet-head or 
a nut ! It stunned the two men who were nearest where 
the ball struck, and that was all. I touched the lever 
the turret revolved as smoothly as before. The turret 
had stood the test ; I could mark that point of weakness 
off my list forever. 

" You notice that the deck is joined to the side of the 
hull by a right angle, at what sailors call the ' plank- 



230 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

shear.' If a projectile struck that angle, what would 
happen ? It would not be deflected ; its whole force 
would be expended there. It might open a seain in 
the hull below the water-line, or pierce the wooden hull, 
and sink us. Here was our second point of weak- 
ness. 

" I had decided how I would fight her in advance. I 
would keep the Monitor moving in a circle, just large 
enough to give time for loading the guns. At the point 
where the circle impinged upon the Merrimac our guns 
should be fired, and loaded while we were moving 
around the circuit. Evidently the Merrimac would re- 
turn the compliment every time. At our second ex- 
change of shots, she returning six or eight to our two, 
another of her large shells struck our ' plank-shear ' at 
its angle, and tore up one of the deck-plates, as you see. 
The shell had struck what I believed to be the weakest 
point in the Monitor. We had already learned that the 
Merrimac swarmed with sharp-shooters, for their bullets 
were constantly spattering against our turret and our 
deck. If a man showed himself on deck he would draw 
their fire. But I did not much consider the sharp-shoot- 
ers. It was my duty to investigate the effects of that 
shot. I ordered one of the pendulums to be hauled 
aside, and, crawling out of the port, walked to the side, 
laid down upon my chest, and examined it thoroughly. 
The hull was uninjured, except for a few splinters in the 
wood. I walked back and crawled into the turret the 
bullets were falling on the iron deck all about me as 
thick as hail-stones in a storm. None struck me, I sup- 
pose because the vessel was moving, and at the angle 
lying on the deck, my body made a small mark difficult 
to hit. We gave them two more guns, and then I told 
the men what was true, that the Merrimac could not 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 231 

sink us if we let her pound us for a month. The men 
cheered ; the knowledge put new life into all. 

"We had more exchanges, and then the Merrimac 
tried new tactics. She endeavored to ram us, to run us 
down. Once she struck us about amidships with her 
iron ram. Here you see its mark. It gave us a shock, 
pushed us around, and that was all the harm. But the 
movement placed our sides together. I gave her two 
guns, which I think lodged in her side, for, from my look- 
out crack, I could not see that either shot rebounded. 
Ours being the smaller vessel, and more easily handled, 
I had no difficulty in avoiding her ram. I ran around 
her several times, planting our shot in what seemed to 
be the most vulnerable places. In this way, reserving 
my fire until I got the range and the mark, I planted 
two more shots almost in the very spot I had hit when 
she tried to ram us. Those shots must have been effect- 
ive, for they were followed by a shower of bars of iron. 

" The third weak spot was our pilot-house. You see 
that it is built a little more than three feet above the 
deck, of bars of iron, ten by twelve inches square, built 
up like a log-house, bolted with very large bolts at the 
corners where the bars interlock. The pilot stands upon 
a platform below, his head and shoulders in the pilot- 
house. The upper tier of bars is separated from the sec- 
ond by an open space of an inch, through which the 
pilot may look out at every point of the compass. The 
pilot-house, as you see, is a four-square mass of iron, pro- 
vided with no means of deflecting a ball. I expected 
trouble from it, and I was not disappointed. Until my 
accident happened, as we approached the enemy I stood in 
the pilot-house and gave the signals. Lieutenant Greene 
fired the guns, and Engineer Stimers, here, revolved the 
turret. 



232 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

" I was below the deck when the corner of the pilot- 
house was first struck by a shot or a shell. It either 
burst or was broken, and no harm was done. A short 
time after I had given the signal, and with my eye close 
against the lookout crack, was watching the effect of 
our shot, when something happened to me ; my part in 
the fight was ended. Lieutenant Green, who fought the 
Merrimac until she had no longer stomach for fighting, 
will tell you the rest of the story." 

Can it be possible that this beardless boy fought one 
of the historic battles of the world? was the thought 
of every one, as the modest, diffident young Green was 
half pushed forward into the circle. "I cannot add 
much to the captain's story," he began. " He had cut 
out the work for us, and we had only to follow his pat- 
tern. I kept the Monitor either moving around the cir- 
cle or around the enemy, and endeavored to place our 
shots as near her amidships as possible, where Captain 
Worden believed he had already broken through her 
armor. We knew that she could not sink us, and I 
thought I would keep right on pounding her as long as 
she would stand it. There is really nothing new to be 
added to Captain Worden's account. "We could strike her 
wherever we chose ; weary as they must have been, our 
men were full of enthusiasm, and I do not think we 
wasted a shot. Once we ran out of the circle for a mo- 
ment to adjust a piece of machinery, and I learn that 
some of our friends feared that we were drawing out of 
the fight. The Merrimac took the opportunity to start 
for Norfolk. As soon as our machinery was adjusted 
we followed her, and got near enough to give her a part- 
ing shot. But I was not familiar with the locality ; there 
might be torpedoes planted in the channel, and I did not 
wish to take any risk of losing our vessel, so I came back 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 233 

to the company of our friends. But except that we were, 
all of us, tired and hungry when we came back to the 
Minnesota at half-past twelve P. M., the Monitor was just 
as well prepared to fight as she was at eight o'clock in 
the morning when she fired her first gun." 

We were then shown the injury to the pilot-house. 
The mark of the ball was plain upon the two upper bars, 
the principal impact being upon the lower of the two. 
This huge bar was broken in the middle, but held firmly 
at either end. The further it was pressed in, the stronger 
was the resistance on the exterior. On the inside the 
fracture in the bar was half an inch wide. Captain Wor- 
den's eye was very near to the lookout crack, so that 
when the gun was discharged the shock of the ball 
knocked him senseless, while the mass of flame filled 
one side of his face with coarse grains of powder. He 
remained insensible for some hours. 

" Have you heard what Captain "Worden's first inquiry 
was when he recovered his senses after the general shock 
to his system ?" asked Captain Fox of the President. 

" I think I have," replied Mr. Lincoln, " but it is worth 
relating to these gentlemen." 

" His question was," said Captain Fox, " * Have I saved 
the Minnesota f ' 

"Yes, and whipped the Merrimac /" some one an- 
swered. 

" Then," said Captain Worden, " I don't care what be- 
comes of me." 

Captain Worden apologized for his inability to provide 
for the President and his guests the usual refreshments 
of a vessel of the navy. The haste of departure from 
her port had led to the omission of everything that did 
not improve the fighting qualities of his vessel. 

" Some uncharitable people say that old Bourbon is an 



234: RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

indispensable element in the fighting qualities of some 
of our generals in the field," smilingly responded the 
President. " But, captain, after the account that we 
have heard to-day, no one will say that any Dutch cour- 
age is needed on board the Monitor" 

" It never has been, sir," modestly observed the cap- 
tain. 

" Mr. President," said Captain Fox, " not much of the 
history to which we have listened is new to me. I saw 
this battle from eight o'clock until midday. There was 
one marvel in it which has not been mentioned the 
splendid handling of the Monitor throughout the battle. 
The first bold advance of this diminutive vessel against 
a giant like the Merrimac was superlatively grand. She 
seemed inspired by Nelson's order at Trafalgar : ' He 
will make no mistake who lays his vessel alongside the 
enemy.' One would have thought the Monitor a living 
thing. No man was visible. You saw her moving around 
that circle, delivering her fire invariably at the point of 
contact, and heard the crash of the missile against her 
enemy's armor above the thunder of her guns, on the 
bank where we stood. It was indescribably grand !" 

"Now," he continued, "standing here on the deck of 
this battle-scarred vessel, the first genuine iron-clad the 
victor in the first fight of iron-clads let me make a con- 
fession, and perform an act of simple justice. I never 
fully believed in armored vessels until I saw this battle. 
I know all the facts which united to give us the Monitor. 
I withhold no credit from Captain Ericsson, her invent- 
or, but I know that the country is principally indebted 
for the construction of this vessel to President Lincoln, 
and for the success of her trial to Captain "Worden, her 
commander." 



XXVIII. 

JOSEPH HENRY AND ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

IN the spring of 1862, I had an opportunity of com- 
paring and contrasting two striking characters ; one, a 
philosopher, trained in the schools, matured by a life of 
study and original investigation which would have made 
him the equal of Plato and Aristotle had he been their 
contemporary ; the other, the product of Nature, with 
his strong common-sense developed by the experiences 
of human life under hard and trying conditions. 

Professor Joseph Henry, Secretary of the Smithsonian 
Institution, called at the office of the register on business 
connected with the Light-House Board, of which he was 
the official head. He would have taken high rank in 
any circle of learned men, from the Stoics to the scien- 
tists of his own time. He was an eminent physicist be- 
fore he was called to his present position. His original 
investigations, especially in light and electricity, were of 
great value, and but for his inborn modesty would have 
credited him with the invention of the art of telegraphy. 
After he was placed in charge of Smithson's great trust, 
he devoted himself to its care and development, and to 
the advancement of the interests of the republic whose 
servant he had become. "With what fidelity he pre- 
served the principal of that trust, and with its interest 
built up an institution for scientific work on a scale of 
magnitude of which Smithson never dreamed, is known 
to his country and the world. The value to the republic 
of his researches into the science of illumination had al- 



236 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ready been very great and was increasing with every 
passing year. To these good works, add an unassuming 
modesty, complete unselfishness, and an unvarying pur- 
pose to make every one the better and happier for his 
acquaintance, and it becomes apparent that Joseph 
Henry was a great man with a very beautiful character. 

" Do you often see the President ?" asked Dr. Henry, 
when his business was completed. 

"Occasionally," I answered. "He sometimes visits 
this office, as I presume he does many others. He is 
always welcome here, but his visits are by no means as 
frequent as I would make them if I could." 

"I have only recently come to know the President, 
except from a passing introduction," he said. " I have 
lately met him five or six times. He is producing a 
powerful impression upon me, more powerful than any 
one I can now recall. It increases with every interview. 
I think it my duty to take philosophic views of men and 
things, but the President upsets me. If I did not resist 
the inclination, I might even fall in love with him." 

It was my opportunity to lure him on. Any views of 
his about President Lincoln could not fail to be of in- 
terest. "Yes?" I said. "Possibly you do not dijffer 
from the rest of us. I know of nobody in this depart- 
ment who knows the President who fails to respect and 
admire him. What do you find in him so attractive ?" 

" I have not yet arranged my thoughts about him in 
a form to warrant their expression," he replied. " But 
I can say so much as this : President Lincoln impresses 
me as a man whose honesty of purpose is transparent, 
who has no mental reservations, who may be said to 
wear his heart upon his sleeve. He has been called 
coarse. In my interviews with him he converses with 
apparent freedom, and without a trace of coarseness. He 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 237 

has been called ignorant. He has shown a comprehen- 
sive grasp of every subject on which he has conversed 
with me. His views of the present situation are some- 
what novel, but seem to me unanswerable. He has read 
many books and remembers their contents better than 
I do. He is associated with men who I know are 
great. He impresses me as their equal, if not their su- 
perior. I desired to induce him to understand, and look 
favorably upon, a change which I wish to make in the 
policy of the Light-House Board in a matter requiring 
some scientific knowledge. He professed his ignorance, 
or, rather, he ridiculed his knowledge of it, and yet he 
discussed it as intelligently " 

" The President !" here interrupted a messenger, open- 
ing the door to admit President Lincoln. 

" You have interrupted an interesting commentary," 
I began, laughingly, as I rose to welcome him. 

"Do not! You will not say another word!" ex- 
claimed the doctor, blushing like a school-girl. " You 
will mortify me excessively if you do." I saw that he 
took the matter seriously, and hastened to change the 
conversation. 

These two great Americans seated themselves side by 
side. They had a long conversation. I took no part in 
the conversation, and shall not attempt to recall it. It 
began with the subject of the destruction by the Con- 
federates of all the lights, buoys, and signal stations 
along their coast ; their purpose in such acts, and how 
our own vessels could best dispense with these aids to 
navigation. It diverged to the subject of illuminating 
oils of different kinds. I inferred that the professor was 
experimenting with lard oils, with a view to their intro- 
duction on account of the saving of expense in their use. 
I could not discover that the President was at a loss for 



238 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

a moment, and that he conversed in any particular less 
intelligently than the professor. The latter looked at 
his watch, apologized for keeping Mr. Lincoln so long, 
and with the air of having done something very repre- 
hensible, abruptly took his leave. 

"Do you often see Professor Henry?" inquired the 
President, as soon as the door had closed. 

I smiled, for it was the identical question which the 
professor had asked me about the President. 

" My visits to the Smithsonian, to Dr. Henry, and his 
able lieutenant, Professor Baird, are the chief recrea- 
tions of my life," I said. " These men are missionaries 
to excite scientific research and promote scientific knowl- 
edge. The country has no more faithful servants, though 
it may have to wait another century to appreciate the 
value of their labors." 

"I had an impression," said Mr. Lincoln, "that the 
Smithsonian was printing a great amount of useless in- 
formation. Professor Henry has convinced me of my 
error. It must be a grand school if it produces such 
thinkers as he is. He is one of the pleasantest men I 
have ever met; so unassuming, simple, and sincere. I 
wish we had a few thousand more such men !" 

It was not strange that these two great men were at- 
tracted towards each other. In their natural qualities 
of sterling honesty, simplicity, and unselfishness, they 
were much alike. It was in their acquisitions that they 
differed, and these did not constitute the foundations of 
their characters. 



XXIX. 

INTER ARMA, SCIENTIA. THE POTOMAC NATURALISTS' CLUB. 

THE Smithsonian recalls almost the only recreation 
which we permitted ourselves to enjoy. After the first 
Bull Run, there was no time when some of our friends 
were not suffering from wounds or sickness, in the hos- 
pitals or in our own households. Yictories were infre- 
quent ; there was a strange incongruity between so much 
suffering and pleasure of any description. 

In the early autumn of 1861, Professor Baird sug- 
gested that we should resist the general tendency to de- 
pression, by occasional meetings of the resident natural- 
ists of Washington. Out of this suggestion grew the 
Potomac Club, with its fortnightly meetings at the 
homes of members, and its memories are still fresh and 
delightful after thirty years. Time has dealt hardly 
with its members : only three or four of them survive. 
I cannot forego this opportunity for a brief notice of 
some of the most conspicuous, to whom we were in- 
debted for many pleasant hours, in what would other- 
wise have been a dark and depressing period of Wash- 
ington life. 

First, and by our unanimous opinion, facile princeps, 
was Spencer F. Baird, Assistant Secretary of the Smith- 
sonian Institute, our president. A greater number of 
talents were delivered to him than to any other member, 
but he was at all times ready to be reckoned with con- 
cerning them. The science of the world was his witness 
how fruitful he had made them. From boyhood he was 



240 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

the friend of every living creature. At the age of forty- 
five he had written and published a description of the 
form, habits, and specific characters of every known 
American mammal, bird, fish, reptile, and many of the 
mollusks and insects. He had taught his countrymen 
the useful lesson that a bountiful Creator had given 
these creatures life for some good purpose. He had 
brought together that gigantic collection in the Smith- 
sonian, and distributed specimens by the hundred thou- 
sand to the museums of the world. He had trained a 
multitude of useful workers in science all over the coun- 
try, who, but for him, would have been ignorant of its 
uses and its pleasures. He had created the Fish Com- 
mission, with an army of unpaid assistants, now by pre- 
cept and now by example, restoring to our coasts and 
inland waters the great fish families almost extermi- 
nated by the reckless improvidence of man. With the 
resources of Smithson's legacy at his command, he was 
as poor as when he left his Pennsylvania home. He 
had certainly buried none of his talents in the earth ; I 
think he had done more scientific work than any natur- 
alist who had preceded him. It was not strange that 
Professor Baird and Professor Henry had labored so 
long and so cordially together, for the former was just 
as delightful as, and possibly more genial than, his superior 
officer. The Baird evenings of our club, when we met 
at his residence, were the most memorable in its history. 
I open the pages of a dilapidated photograph-album 
of the period. Who is this, shod with moccasins, clad 
in furs, with knitted pointed cap, a blanket over his 
shoulders, and a dog whip with its trailing lash in his 
right hand ? It is Robert Kennicott, just returned from 
his three years' exploration of the great marshes of the 
Yucon, the Arctic coasts reached by the Coppermine 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 241 

Kiver, and the regions round about Fort Mackenzie. 
He has brought back with him from their breeding- 
grounds, before unknown, the eggs of the canvas-back 
and red-head duck, and of many other birds new to sci- 
ence. He has increased the collection in the museum 
by many new specimens, and added many new facts to 
scientific lore. He insists that at Fort Churchill, where 
he acquired celebrity as a great medicine man, human 
beings hibernate as truly as the plantigrades. During 
his three years' absence he was cut off from home as 
effectually as if he had been in another planet. 

Kennicott was born on an Illinois prairie. How en- 
ergetic and black-eyed and queer he was ! The play- 
mates of his childhood belonged to the Crotalus family. 
No rattlesnake, he said, had any venom for him. He 
collected them in a bag, and handled them as if they 
were eels. None ever struck or attempted to strike at 
him. He was a favorite student of Professor Baird, and 
the very life of our social meetings. His early death 
was a loss to science and a personal grief to all who 
knew him. 

William Simpson was another of our members one 
of the most promising young naturalists of his time. He 
had labored diligently in the field. Chicago, charmed 
by his enthusiasm, had made him her pet. The citizens 
built a fine edifice for his collection, put him in charge 
of it with a liberal salary, and it was growing marvel- 
lously, when in an hour the fire-fiend touched it with the 
finger of annihilation. He had inherited tubercular dis- 
ease, against which he had fought with the courage of a 
soldier. But this collection was the treasure of his heart, 
the jewel of his eye. When he lost it he withered and 
died, and science lost a votary and a martyr. 

Count Pourtalis was another interesting member of 
16 



242 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

the club. He belonged to the French nobility. He dif- 
fered in opinion with his family, and they cut him off 
because he insisted upon marrying the portionless girl 
whom he loved, and devoting himself to the study of the 
physical sciences. He wedded his love, both came to the 
United States, and he presented himself, with an empty 
purse and a heart devoted to science, to his massive- 
brained countryman, Agassiz. Through him the count 
obtained a position in the Coast Survey. There he 
proved a most useful worker, was promoted according 
to his merit, and was then living modestly and happily 
with his wife and boys in Washington. A few years 
later, the noble Pourtalis family were glad enough to 
invite him to return with his wife and children, and a 
national reputation as a scientist, to his paternal halls. 

The subject is very tempting, but must not be further 
pursued in detail. Yet I cannot wholly pass over Baron 
Osten-Sacken, of the Kussian Legation. The Diptera, 
or Cuvier's twelfth order of insects, was his forte. Very 
learned he was too, and, if I am not mistaken, his mono- 
graph on the Diptera, a large quarto, was printed by 
the Smithsonian as one of its contributions to science. 
He was a genial, kind-hearted, unassuming student of 
nature. The club had not a more popular member ; but 
owing to his diminutive size, he acquired a name which 
clung to him ever afterwards. 

" Pray, what are the Diptera ?" asked a member, whose 
studies had not been entomological, of another member, 
when Osten-Sacken was mentioned. 

" Diptera ? "Well, I suppose a Culex belongs to the 
Diptera" 

" What is a Culex, then ?" pursued his questioner. 

"A Culex f" was the reply. "A Culex is an insect 
with a double pair of wings, abounding in moist locali- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 

ties, which, thirsting for human gore, invades the habita- 
tions of man with an irritating buzzing sound, pierces the 
cuticle with his lancet-shaped proboscis, and discharges 
into the wound a poisonous fluid." 

"Confound the man! He means a mosquito!" ex- 
claimed an irreverent auditor. " Osten-Sacken would 
naturally write about the species. Don't you see the 
family resemblance ?" 

This was sufficient to fasten an undeserved nick-name 
upon the good-natured little entomologist. 

I can only mention the names of others. Jillson and 
Peale, from the Art Departments ; Shaeffer, the Libra- 
rian of the Patent Office. Peale was the brother of Kem- 
brandt Peale, the artist, with many of his accomplish- 
ments ; Shaeffer was one of the most learned of Germans. 
Then there was Hay den, who led an exploring -party 
every spring beyond the one hundredth meridian, and 
returned in the autumn laden with fossils and other 
specimens, to worry Congress into granting his appro- 
priation for the coming year. He must have understood 
the business, for he never failed. Another of our mem- 
bers was A. B. Meek, the most conscientious geologist 
who ever described a fossil, whose mind was as clean 
and pure as that of an infant, whom we all loved and 
honored, but who was so intensely mortified by his deaf- 
ness that he could be drawn but seldom to our meetings. 
Theodore Gill was our ichthyologist. He was charged 
with creating more new species than ever scientific en- 
thusiast was responsible for before. S. M. Clarke, then 
of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in the Treas- 
ury, whose microscope, with its collection of lenses, was 
our envy, and who was an accomplished manipulator of 
the instrument, and Schott, the mathematician of the 
Coast Survey, eminent in his work, and the owner of a 



244 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

breed of Pomeranian dogs of pure blood, close the list of 
our regular members. 

Among our occasional visitors was Cope, who had not 
then commenced his warfare upon Marsh, and Dr. New- 
berry, who has since done such magnificent work for the 
spread of scientific instruction, and who was then not 
only a director, but a hard worker of the Sanitary Com- 
mission. Those were sessions of great interest, when, 
just returning from some field of bloody conflict, he told 
us of the lives and the pain and suffering saved by the 
judicious administration of that, the noblest of all the 
charities of the war. O. C. Marsh was always a welcome 
guest, able to contribute his full share to the science or 
pleasure of the evening. 

It is fit that this notice of the members and visitors 
of our club should close with the name of Professor 
Agassiz. Three nights he was with us. Those were 
evenings when we wanted to omit refreshments, because 
they interrupted Agassiz, so eager were we to listen to 
the words of this giant of science. His facility of ex- 
pression would have been considered remarkable in his 
native tongue in English, a foreign language to him, it 
was marvellous. He was as willing to converse as we 
were to listen. And how perfectly unassuming he was ! 
He pretended to nothing that he did not know. I had 
long desired to ascertain his views on one subject. One 
evening I had my opportunity. " Professor Agassiz," I 
said, " you have studied the Ice Period more exhaustive- 
ly than any other physicist. Tell us what it was that 
changed the temperature so as to permit the ice-sheet to 
cover so large a part of our continent." 

He answered, without the slightest hesitation : " I do 
not believe that the science of to-day can give a satisfac- 
tory answer to that question, simply because we know 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 245 

of no conditions which could vaporize as large a quantity 
of water as was necessary to form the ice-sheet. Its an- 
swer may be found in the great Kocky and Sierra Ne- 
vada ranges, or in the basin between, but it has not yet 
been discovered." 

I have addressed this inquiry to many other physicists. 
They have almost invariably attempted some unsatisfac- 
tory reply. Professor Agassiz was great enough to say 
that he did not know. 



XXX. 

A NIGHT WITH THE POTOMAC NATURALISTS' CLUB. THE GIANT 

OCTOPUS. 

THE slogan " On to Richmond !" was no longer heard in 
our land. Its latest notes had receded into silence over the 
field of Bull Run. The dispirited men who, in broken 
ranks, straggled into Washington, had heard enough of 
it. They would be contented now to wait for discipline 
and preparation before that or any other note of inex- 
perience was raised again. 

Now it was that the anaconda was taken as the pop- 
ular model for the coming campaign. With a firm at- 
tachment to Washington as its base, it was to encircle 
the whole Confederate army, and when the time for 
muscular tension came, not a single soldier of the enemy 
was to escape from the deadly constriction of its folds. 
The anaconda contrivance appeared to be safe, simple, 
and very popular. 

At one of our club-meetings a member incidentally 
referred to the anaconda model suggested by our young 
and popular military chieftain. It was criticised as an 
unfortunate suggestion. These boas were a sluggish, 
cowardly race, said the member. They lurked in foul 
recesses ; they struck from behind. It was essential to 
capture that the quarry should be standing quiet at the 
moment of attack. The rebels were a restless race, con- 
tinually moving about, and could not be counted on to 
stand still long enough for the process of constriction, 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 247 

The rattlesnake was a better model. He was a fighter 
ab ovo. He gave notice before he struck, and rather pre- 
ferred to hit his enemy in the face. 

" "Why would not the giant octopus answer for a mil- 
itary model?" said another member. "He has claims 
that are not to be overlooked that is, if his existence is 
not wholly fabulous." 

" I believe in the giant octopus," said Count Pourtalis. 
" I have had occasion recently to investigate his history, 
and there is very satisfactory evidence of his existence. 
I cannot discuss him as a military model, but as an ex- 
isting species he is a fact which I am prepared to prove." 

The count was the expert of the Coast Survey in deep- 
sea soundings. His reputation as an investigator was 
established. He readily acceded to the universal demand 
of the members, that he should give them the latest facts 
about, as well as the natural history of, the giant octopus. 

" Gentlemen," he began, " I think I shall be able to 
show you that the cuttle-fish is not to be ridiculed. He 
belongs to the squid family, and has a lot of names. He 
is called a cephalopod, an octopus, a loligo, a teuthis, as 
well as a cuttle-fish and a squid. He cuts an important 
figure in the early literature of natural science. In the 
' Historiae Naturalis,' of Dr. Johannes Jonstonus, pub- 
lished, in two huge folios, at Amsterdam, in 1657, you 
will find him figured in five gigantic forms. The learned 
doctor has collected all that the naturalists have written 
on the subject from Aristotle and Elian, Plutarch and 
Hippocrates, to the writers of his own time. Pliny de- 
scribes one captured at Carteia, the dried remains of 
which weighed seven hundred pounds. Its arms were 
thirty feet long, with suckers as big as an urn. All the 
writers agree on its enormous size and its destructive- 
ness to man. But it is in the Arctic seas that it is largest 



248 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

and most ferocious. Olaus Magnus figures one in the 
act of taking a sailor from the deck of a vessel. Mont- 
fort represented one pulling a three-masted ship under 
the waves. It remained for the pious old Bishop Pon- 
toppidan, as recently as the last half of the seventeenth 
century, to describe it as ' the largest of all living creat- 
ures.' ' He never shows his whole body out of the wa- 
ter, but shows a portion about an English mile and a half 
in circumference.' ' If this creature's arms were to lay 
hold of the largest man-of-war, he would drag it down 
to the bottom.' 'When he sinks, he creates a whirl- 
pool which draws everything down with it.' Perhaps," 
continued the count, " this is enough to show you that 
the old naturalists thought him an animal of some mag- 
nitude." To which the club readily assented. 

" Then," he resumed, " we will take some more recent 
evidence. In a late number of the Comptes Rendus of 
the French Academy is an account of a battle between 
the crew of a French man-of-war and a huge loligo, 
which occurred in the Indian Ocean less than two years 
ago. This battle is authenticated by the oaths of the 
officers. It continued for more than four hours. The 
squid escaped, for their harpoons and hooks drew out of 
its soft body. But they cut off some of its arms, over 
thirty feet in length, exclusive of the paddle, which 
measured ten feet more. Travellers in Japan report 
paintings of the squid, tearing fishermen from their 
boats, and on the coast of Newfoundland huge masses 
of one which had been killed were found, with the ten- 
tacles attached, over forty feet in length. Upon this 
evidence, I am a believer in the existence of the giant 
cuttle-fish." 

The count having concluded, Professor Baird took up 
the discussion. " Suppose, now, that, in the words of Mrs. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 249 

Partington, we ' cease to refrain from odorous compari- 
sons/ and look the octopus squarely in the face. His 
eyes are like saucers, but as he is not provided with eye- 
lids, he carries them under his arms. He is well fixed 
in the matter of arms, having anywhere from eight to 
twenty, which, for convenience in feeding, are arranged 
in a circle around his mouth, which is directly on top 
of his head. His jaws are horny and triangular, and 
work up and down like the knife of a guillotine. Hav- 
ing such a supply of arms, he dispenses with legs alto- 
gether, and walks on his head, tail upwards. Along 
these tentacles, forty or fifty feet in length, are arranged 
rows of cup-shaped suckers. When they grasp their 
prey, a single muscular contraction creates a vacuum in 
these suckers, and every cup is made as fast as a limpet 
to a rock, so that it is easier to tear off than to detach 
the arm. They have a fair brain, in a well-protected 
skull, a fine sense of hearing, and they handle their arms 
with the quickness of a monkey. They move sideways 
by means of their arms, or backwards by squirting the 
water in advance. They are provided with supplies of 
paint in cells under the skin, and by pressing these cells 
they can paint themselves in other colors. Like an army 
correspondent, they always carry their ink-bag, and, 
whenever they wish to retire from the public or any 
other view, a gentle pressure upon the ink-bag surrounds 
them with a black curtain which no vision can penetrate, 
and they can then make their retreat invisible to an en- 
emy. Obviously such invisibility would be of great ad- 
vantage to a retreating army." 

The subject was then open for general discussion, 
which was continued on a scientific basis, but in a sim- 
ilar temper. We decided that the squid was a fact, if 
not a factor, and that he was well arranged for a preda- 



250 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

tory life at the expense of the enemy. After a sarcastic 
notice of this discussion by the press nothing more was 
heard of the anaconda as a model for our army. 

To these notes I may add an incident in my own 
experience. Years after the close of the war, I was 
one day walking along the Pacific coast of the Mexi- 
can territory of Lower California, near Magdalena Bay. 
The tide was low, and in a cavity of the rock I saw 
what I supposed to be a star -fish or a holothurian, 
and carelessly thrust the long staff I was using as a 
walking-stick into it. Like a flash the tentacles of the 
animal grasped it, reaching nearly to my hand. My 
companion, an intelligent Ecuadorian, well acquainted 
with that coast, shrieked to me to let the creature alone. 
I pulled it out, as it adhered to the staff, and found it 
to be a squid, weighing thirty or forty pounds. I had 
to kill the animal before he would leave the staff. My 
companion then gave me the following account, as of a 
fact which occurred within his own knowledge. The 
Chinese from San Francisco were accustomed to visit 
that coast to collect a bivalve mollusk, which they dried 
and used for food. One day a man belonging to one of 
their schooners disappeared, and was not to be found, 
lie was finally discovered adhering, apparently, to the 
face of a perpendicular rock, two or three fathoms above 
the surface of the water. He was quite dead, in the 
grasp of a squid, which was already feasting on his body. 
The squid occupied a cavity in the rock, and had seized 
the Chinaman in his tentacles, drawn him to the mouth 
of his den, and there crushed him. That animal was 
supposed to weigh about four hundred pounds. 



XXXI. 

HOSPITAL NOTES. THE WOUNDED FROM THE WILDERNESS- 
CHARITIES OF THE COLORED POOR. SISTERS OF CHARITY. 
ANAESTHETICS. 

WAS the whole of Grant's army being sent back 
wounded to Washington ? It appeared so, in those early 
days of May, 1864. Ample hospitals had been provided 
for the wounded and disabled from a great battle. Many 
swift steamers were constantly plying between Aquia 
Creek and Washington. Mattresses spread side by side 
covered the decks and the cabin floor, on each of which, 
at the beginning of the voyage, lay a wounded man. As 
they neared its end, and came to the Sixth Street Land- 
ing, some of these were vacant. Their tenants lay in the 
bow of the steamer ; their faces were covered, and they 
were very still. Attendants moved gently among them, 
for they were asleep. Many in that short voyage had 
fallen into the sleep that knows no waking. 

At the landing the survivors were placed by careful 
hands in ambulances, which took their places in a pro- 
cession constantly moving on one line out to the hospi- 
tals on the hills back of the city, and then returning by 
another route to the Sixth Street Landing. This pro- 
cession of laden ambulances was more than three miles 
long, and the vehicles ran quite near each other ; the re- 
turn route was somewhat longer. 

For three days and as many nights the procession had 
been moving up and down its course, never ceasing its 
progress, save when the breaking of a carriage caused a 



252 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

temporary delay. "Was it never to stop ? "Was the en- 
tire army to be returned in this disabled condition? 

The silent patience with which these soldiers endured 
their sufferings was most impressive. "Wounded as many 
were unto death, tortured by the agony of thirst which 
always follows the loss of blood in gun-shot wounds, 
some with limbs amputated on the field, and the severed 
stumps still undressed, scarcely a sigh or a groan escaped 
their parched lips. It was discovered by those who 
lived along the route that water, or any liquid which 
would quench thirst, was the most grateful relief that 
could be afforded them. The colored people were the 
first to make the discovery. They built little stands by 
the roadside, and from these, little darkies, with vessels 
of every form and dimension, trotted along by the ambu- 
lances, and served out the contents to the suffering men. 
Soon tables were set out before many of the dwellings, and 
coffee, tea, and light eatables were given to all soldiers 
who would accept them. Almost every residence became 
a house of refreshments, managed by patriotic women. 
The gratitude which some could express only by a look 
was the only compensation demanded. 

After midnight on May 10th, there suddenly gathered 
over the city one of those heavy rain clouds not uncom- 
mon in that locality. This cloud appeared to embrace 
the earth, the darkness was complete ; its density was 
almost palpable to the sense of feeling. "When the con- 
densation began, the rain fell in torrents, like water from 
a cascade, bringing with it thunder, and lightning in 
flashes so frequent as to seem almost continuous. All 
objects were sharply illuminated and brought into bold 
relief. The thunder came in crashes rather than in re- 
verberations. 

The procession of the ambulances could not move in 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 253 

that storm and darkness, and had come to a halt. Look- 
ing down Eleventh from M Street to Pennsylvania Ave- 
nue, one could see by the lightning flashes for a distance 
of half a mile. There was presented a singular and un- 
usual spectacle. Around every vehicle was a fringe of 
white objects, projecting outward. They were of irreg- 
ular forms and sizes, and it puzzled the observer to know 
what they were. They proved to be the limbs and por- 
tions of the bodies of the wounded their legs, arms, 
shoulders, faces, heads, necks, every part which it was 
possible to expose to the falling shower of rain. It was 
a weird and curious picture, another of the myriad forms 
in which are exhibited the pains and miseries of war. 

The war had its full complement of miseries ; its scenes 
of suffering were very numerous, and painful beyond de- 
scription. On the other hand, it developed some of the 
finer qualities of our humanity in a remarkable degree, 
from unexpected sources. There were occasions when 
everybody, the poor equally with the rich, seemed to be 
moved by a common impulse to works of benevolence 
and charity. This statement is especially true of the 
colored race, of which some proofs will be elsewhere 
given. 

Bull Eun, the first great battle of the war, had proved 
the miserable inadequacy of the hospital accommodations 
of the army. The churches, all the public buildings which 
could possibly be vacated, were filled with sick and 
wounded men. Citizens received their wounded friends 
into their own homes ; tents were pitched upon the va- 
cant squares, and yet there were hundreds who, for a 
day or two, lay upon the streets, exposed to the sun, the 
rain, the heat, the insects, and all the inconveniences of 
an unsheltered situation. Even when a great enlarge- 
ment of hospital accommodations was undertaken, so 



254 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

little attention was paid to sanitary conditions that the 
hospitals were built wherever there was a vacant square. 
One of the largest was located near the Smithsonian In- 
stitution, along the border of the old canal, which, re- 
ceiving the surface drainage of half the city, in the heat 
of summer became eventually little less than a noisome 
cesspool. It seems incredible that such negligence 
should have been permitted. The inevitable result, as 
any one could have foreseen, was that this hospital be- 
came the slaughter-house of the soldier. Death from 
blood-poisoning became so certain that the simplest in- 
cised wounds, and even scratches, were fatal, if the suf- 
ferer was sent to that hospital. 

Experience and the newspapers soon brought about a 
reform. The Sanitary Commission made its voice heard 
and its influence felt. Instead of erecting hospitals in 
the heart of the city, the authorities began to locate them 
upon the hills surrounding it, where there was pure air 
and abundant room for the tents, which were more 
healthy than enclosed structures. Upon these hills were 
the forts which defended the capital. By the autumn 
of 1864 there was a succession of hospitals in a circle 
just outside the city limits, with large accommodations, 
and a greater number of tenants than were comprised 
in all these forts and their outworks. 

Our Sunday afternoons were generally devoted to 
visiting these hospitals. The occasions were infrequent 
when there were not sufferers from the green hills 
of Yermont in some of them, to whom the sight of a 
friendly face seemed to be the best of medicines. The 
grateful looks of these wounded boys always well repaid 
the trouble of a visit. We often found the poor fellows 
craving, or rather intensely suffering, for the want of 
something which the service did not furnish, but which a 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 255 

few cents and a friendly hand could supply. The gift of 
diamonds and sapphires would not have elicited the grat- 
itude I have seen drawn out by the contents of a hand- 
basket. We saw much suffering in these visits, but we also 
saw much that illustrated the better side of human nature. 

On one occasion I was visiting a Yermont cavalry- 
man, who lay in a large hospital near Columbia College, 
on the continuation of Fourteenth Street. He had a 
splendid record for bravery in the field, and now in the 
hospital he was fighting death with equal courage and 
fortitude. He was in a ward filled with the wounded 
from a battle in the valley some weeks before. Only 
those whose wounds were particularly severe had been 
brought there, and at the time of my visit most of those 
who remained had been there some three or four weeks, 
slowly recovering from what seemed to me terrible in- 
juries. 

I was writing at the dictation of the Vermonter a let- 
ter to his wife, when, from my camp-stool at his bedside, 
I saw a colored woman enter the ward. She was old, 
decrepit, and poorly clad, so lame that she could scarcely 
walk, but managed to hobble along by the aid of a staff. 
Except a basket, covered by a clean white cloth, which 
hung upon her arm, everything about her indicated ex- 
treme poverty. 

The entrance of this unattractive person produced a 
commotion. A dozen men, my cavalry-man included, 
shouted their welcome, and even the faces of those too 
weak to raise their heads from their pillow were lighted 
up with joy. " Here's mammy !" " Come here first, 
mammy!" "Don't forget me, mammy!" these and 
similar expressions came from all parts of the ward. I 
have seen the wife of a President enter a ward without 
exciting any such expressions of interest. 



256 KECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

" Yes ! ole mammy's heah, chilluns, jes' as I tole you. 
She's got two apiece for ebery one of ye ! I had to 
borry some from a fren'. It's been offul dry, an' de new 
vines ha'n't come on like as I 'spected. But dey 's doin' 
well now. Nex' Sunday I 'spect I'll have three apiece, 
an' a big one for doctor. Now you all jes' be quiet ; I 
won't f orgit one of ye !" 

She hobbled up to a bed. It was vacant. "Why, 
where 's Mass' Frank ? " she exclaimed, with unmistaka- 
ble surprise. " Why don't you tell me ? Where's Mass' 
Frank, I say?" 

" Poor Frank has gone home, mammy ! He got his 
discharge yesterday," said one who lay near by, in a voice 
which trembled a little in spite of himself. 

" I was afeerd on't ! I was afeerd on't. He tole me 
he was goin' away !" And the poor old creature sobbed 
as if she had a heart as tender as one of whiter skin. 
" Poor Mass' Frank ! I reckon he's better now. He read 
me his mammy's letter. Poor mammy ! She's done got 
a heap o' trouble. She lose her boy. Poor mammy! 
Poor Mass' Frank ! He was a brave one ! His hurt was 
offul ! Seemed like you could jes' see his heart in dat 
great red hole !" 

She dried her tears, took up her basket, and went from 
cot to cot, making her distribution of its contents. The 
weakest of the wounded boys put out his thin hand 
eagerly, as if what she gave was very precious. The 
very last was my cavalryman, who was just as eager as 
the rest. And then I saw that she had been distribut- 
ing small cucumbers pickled in vinegar ! 

" Dat's all to-day, my chilluns ! Nex' Lord's-day I'll 
be here, shore! De weather's done been good, and I 
'spect I'll have more an' bigger uns. Yes, I'll come, 
shore!" 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 257 

" Bring your basket here, mammy," said one, " I have 
something that the boys want to put into it, which you 
must not look at nor open until you get home. Will 
you promise ?" 

" No, Mass' George I You can't fool ole mammy dat 
way. I can't make dat promise. I know yo' tricks. 
Dat's money, dat is. Mass' George, I'm ole, an' all broke 
up wid rheumatiz, workin' in de rice-field. I've got jes' 
one boy left. He takes good care o' his ole mammy. 
All de rest is sold all gone Souf to de cane-fields or de 
cotton-fields ! I 'spect I shall never see 'em again. But, 
Mass' George" (here a joyful light flashed over her 
wrinkled face), " I'se free now, bress de Lord an' Mass' 
Linkum ! I reckon all I'se good for is to raise pickles 
for de boys. But I can't sell 'em for money ! No, no !" 

She shook her head in the most decided manner and 
went out of the ward, followed by shouts of " Good-bye, 
mammy !" " God bless you !" " Come again !" 

The cavalryman informed me, and the statement has 
since been confirmed by surgeons, that there was noth- 
ing so much craved by the wounded, especially those 
who had lost much blood, as sharp, pickled cucumbers. 
He had seen the time when his longing for them was 
intolerable, when he would have given a month's pay 
for even one small pickle. I have no idea why more of 
them were not provided, when such complete provision 
was made for all hospital supplies. My informant said 
that one of the highest ladies in the land had visited 
that ward, and asked what the boys most wanted. The 
answer was, pickled cucumbers. She immediately told 
them that she would supply that want, and would order 
a whole barrel of the coveted delicacies from a whole- 
sale grocery-house. The pickles never came, and the 
boys were cruelly disappointed. The lady probably f or- 
17 



258 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

got her promise, or found it inconvenient to keep it. 
" Old mammy isn't much on promises," said the cavalry- 
man, " but she always fetches the pickles !" 

Of all the forms of charity and benevolence seen in 
the crowded wards of the hospitals, those of some Cath- 
olic sisters were among the most efficient. I never knew 
whence they came, or what was the name of their order. 
They wore the ordinary plain black dress of some wors- 
ted stuff, but not the white band about the forehead. One 
instance illustrates the value of these volunteer nurses. 
In one of the ward? was a gigantic soldier, severely 
wounded in the head. He had suddenly become deliri- 
ous, and was raging up and down the ward, furious 
against those who had robbed him, of what I could 
not make out. He cast off the attendants who attempt- 
ed to seize him as if they had been children. The surgeon 
was called in, and with several officers was consulting 1 

7 O 

how they should seize and bind him, when a small figure 
in black entered the room. With a shout of joyous 
recognition the soldier rushed to his cot, and drew the 
blanket over him, as if ashamed of his half-dressed ap- 
pearance. The sister seated herself at his bedside, and 
placed her white hand upon the soldier's heated brow. 
His chest was heaving with excitement, but the sight of 
her face had restored his reason. " I must have dreamed 
it," he said, " but it was so real ! I thought they had 
taken you away, and said I should never see you again. 
Oh, I could have killed them all !" 

"You must sleep now," she said, very gently. "I 
shall stay if you are good, and you have been so ex- 
cited" 

" Yes," he murmured, " I will sleep. I will do any- 
thing for you if they will not take you away. I could 
not bear that, you know." 




AND HIS ADMINISTRATION*. 259 

He closed his eyes, holding one of her hands clasped 
in both of his, and, while we were looking on, slept as 
peacefully as a child. 

Late in that terrible battle summer, when Grant was 
forcing his resistless march towards Richmond, the hos- 
pitals were not only overcrowded, but for a time there 
was no proper separation of the wounded from those 
sick from other causes. In a single ward were men with 
freshly amputated limbs, and gunshot wounds of every 
kind, and men burning with many fevers. Erysipelas 
was silently sapping the vital forces of one, consumption 
undermining the lungs of another, an angry cutaneous 
disease absorbing the surface moisture of a third all 
stretched upon cots so close together that there was 
scarcely room to pass between them. What seemed 
especially horrible to me were the surgical operations 
carried on in the wards, because the operating-rooms 
were so constantly in use. For these suffering men, in 
addition to their own ills, to see one of their number 
stretched upon a table, where the surgeon's knife severed 
the living muscle and the resisting bone, with a display 
of all the suggestive machinery of the surgeon's profes- 
sion, seemed too much for weak humanity to endure. 

These scenes, altogether the most painful I have ever 
witnessed, have nevertheless in my memory a beautiful 
side. More lovely than anything I have ever seen in 
art, so long devoted to illustrations of love, mercy, and 
charity, are the pictures that remain of those modest 
sisters going on their errands of mercy among the suf- 
fering and the dying. Gentle and womanly, yet with 
the courage of soldiers leading a forlorn hope, to sustain 
them in contact with such horrors. As they went from 
cot to cot, distributing the medicines prescribed, or ad- 
ministering the cooling, strengthening draughts as di- 



260 RECOLLECTIONS Otf PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

rected, they were veritable angels of mercy. Their 
words were suited to every sufferer. One they incited 
and encouraged, another they calmed and soothed. 
With every soldier they conversed about his home, his 
wife, his children, all the loved ones he was soon to see 
again if he was obedient and patient. How many times 
have I seen them exorcise pain by their presence or 
their words ! How often has the hot forehead of the 
soldier grown cool as one of these sisters bathed it ! 
How often has he been refreshed, encouraged, and tig* 
sisted along the road to convalescence, when he would 
otherwise have fallen by the way, by the home memo- 
ries with which these unpaid nurses filled his heart ! 

" Are there any means by which I can overcome the 
unpleasant sensations which I always feel on my visits 
to your hospital-wards ?" I asked of an experienced sur- 
geon. " It is a duty to make them, as long as I can be 
of any use to the boys, but I am made sick every time. 
I have a feeling of nausea which continues for hours." 

" It is the effect of your imagination," he responded. 
"You are unused to wounds. You exaggerate their 
symptoms. These men do not suffer as you imagine ; if 
they did, we should relieve them. Wounded men en- 
dure great suffering on the field, and on their way to 
the hospital, but very little after they come under our 
hands. They suffer more from thirst than any other 
cause. Loss of blood makes the whole machinery of life 
dry and thirsty. After they reach the hospital, relief is 
speedy." 

" Yes, it must be," I said, ironically. " Belief by be- 
ing hacked and cut and sawn in sections must be pain- 
less!" 

"You should see an operation," said the surgeon 
" It would cure your nausea, and correct some of your 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION 261 

erroneous ideas. I am perfectly serious. I am to do 
rather a difficult piece of work now, as soon as the op- 
erating-room is put in order. Come and see it, and judge 
for yourself." 

" I know it will irritate every nerve in my body, like 
a shock of electricity! But it would be cowardly to 
decline. Surely, if the poor soldier can endure it, I 
ought to be able to stand the sight of it. Yes, I will 
come," I said. 

I was shown into a small room adjoining the ward, 
with windows opening on two sides, through which the 
green fields and peach orchards, laden with young fruit, 
were visible. The room had just been scoured, and was 
fresh and odorless. On one side of the apartment were 
washing conveniences with a stream of running water. 
A plain, heavy table stood in the centre, covered by a 
rubber cloth which extended nearly to the floor on its 
four sides. The only suspicious objects visible were 
several large mahogany boxes, standing upon shelves in 
one corner, but these were closed. If the removal of 
the cover had disclosed a proper table, the room might 
have been as well suited to billiards as to surgical opera- 
tions. 

Four strong men now brought in a stretcher, on which 
was a bed with white linen sheets, containing a wounded 
soldier. The stretcher was laid upon the table. An at- 
tendant quickly applied a sponge, which he pressed to 
the mouth of the patient. I detected the odor of ether, 
and in less time than it has taken to write the account 
the soldier lay quietly unconscious and passive. His 
clothing, the bed, and everything under him was then 
quickly removed, so that his naked chest was in contact 
with the rubber covering. His torso was as splendidly 
muscular as that of a gladiator. He was a Dane, appa- 



262 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

rently about twenty-five years of age, a blond, with blue 
eyes, fair hair, and a transparent skin, under which the 
strong muscles of his chest and right arm were plain- 
ly visible. The upper portion of his left arm and the 
entire left shoulder were of a deep purple color, angry 
and dark by contrast. Marching with his regiment 
through a rocky dell, far down the valley, below Luray, 
he had been shot by a bushwhacker ambushed in the 
rocks above him. A minie bullet had crashed through 
his shoulder at the joint, shattering the humerus to the 
elbow. He was far away from any hospital. Lying on 
the straw in an army wagon, he had been carted over 
the stony roads more than sixty miles to Harper's Ferry, 
where he had been placed with other wounded in a box 
freight-car on the railroad, and so had reached Wash- 
ington and been carried to the hospital. It was now 
several days since he received his wound. The shoulder 
and arm were swollen, an angry circle of dark purple 
surrounding the opening where the ball had entered. It 
was a terrible wound, rendered fatal, to all appearance, 
by the long fatigue, neglect, and exposure. 

The surgeon, with a small-bladed knife, laid open the 
arm from the shoulder to the elbow-joint, and began to 
separate the muscle from the shattered bone. Piece 
after piece of bone was taken out until the entire length, 
in six fragments, lay upon the table. The muscle was 
then turned out like the finger of a glove, exposing the 
shoulder-joint, also badly fractured. The pieces were 
removed, and the projecting points cut off. The whole 
mass of muscle was then cleansed from blood, washed 
with some lotion of an antiseptic nature, and the entire 
cut, from elbow to shoulder, carefully stitched together. 
The remains of the arm were then laid along the side of 
the chest, and firmly fastened to it with bandages. The 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 263 

operation occupied nearly an hour. All the bones and 
blood were removed, the table again washed, and clean 
linen placed upon the soldier. He was laid between the 
clean white sheets, the ether was taken away, and he 
was restored to consciousness. 

During all this horrible operation the patient ap- 
peared to be living in a pleasant dream of the farm in 
Iowa, where he had made his home. He was driving 
his oxen at the plough, reproving the awkwardness of 
his farm hands, playing with his children, and consult- 
ing with his wife about their schools, and other domes- 
tic matters. He talked and laughed and sang. He had 
been mercifully spared all pain and suffering, so that 
when he recovered consciousness it was a considerable 
time before he could be convinced that he had been sub- 
jected to any surgical operation. 

He was removed to his cot. I gave him my address, 
and asked him to write to me if he wanted anything 
which the hospital could not provide. We subsequently 
furnished him with a few delicacies ; new cases engrossed 
our attention, and the Dane was forgotten. 

Four or five months later, a stout, rugged man, in the 
uniform of a soldier, called at my office in the Treasury. 
I did not recognize him, though his face impressed me 

as one that I had seen somewhere. " I am B , from 

the 4th Iowa, to whom your lady was so kind in the hos- 
pital," he said. " I have just got my discharge, and am 
on my way home." Upon my inquiry whether his arm 
was at all useful to him, he took hold of a large scuttle 
filled with coal, and carried it across the room. He made 
a fair signature with a pen, and showed that he could 
make good use of his arm, except that he could not raise 
it above the level of his shoulder. I have since heard of 
him as a respected farmer in easy circumstances in Iowa. 



264 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

The pain and suffering spared to the soldier by the 
intelligent use of anaesthetics during the war was beyond 
measure. Although the history belongs to the profes- 
sion of those who used them, I saw so much of their 
blessed influence that I could not forbear giving this 
testimony to their value. 



XXXII. 

PRESIDENT LINCOLN AND THE SLEEPING SENTINEL. ERRONE- 
OUS VERSIONS OF THE STORY. WILLIAM SCOTT, A MEMBER 
OF THE THIRD VERMONT, SENTENCED TO DEATH FOR SLEEP- 
ING ON HIS POST. HE IS PARDONED BY THE PRESIDENT. 
HIS LAST MESSAGE TO THE PRESIDENT. HIS DEATH AT THE 
BATTLE OF LEE'S MILLS. 

THE story of the President and the sleeping senti- 
nel has been so many times sung in song and described 
in story that its repetition may seem like the relation 
of a thrice-told tale. The substantial facts are common 
to all its versions. A soldier named Scott, condemned 
to be shot for the crime of sleeping on his post, was 
pardoned by President Lincoln, only to be killed after- 
wards at the battle of Lee's Mills, on the Peninsula. 
The incidental facts are varied according to the taste, 
the fancy, or the imagination of the writer of each ver- 
sion. The number of persons who claim to have pro- 
cured the intervention of the President to save the life 
of the soldier nearly equals that of the different ver- 
sions. As these persons worked independently of each 
other, and one did not know what another had done, it 
is not improbable that several of them are entitled to 
some measure of credit, of which I should be most un- 
willing to deprive them. 

The truth is always and everywhere attractive. The 
child loves, and never outgrows its love, for a real true 
story. The story of this young soldier, as it was pre- 
sented to me, so touchingly reveals some of the kindlier 



266 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

qualities of the President's character that it seldom fails 
to charm those to whom it is related. I shall give its 
facts as I understood them, and I think I can guarantee 
their general accuracy. 

On a dark September morning, in 1861, when I reached 
my office, I found waiting there a party of soldiers, none 
of whom I personally knew. They were greatly excited, 
all speaking at the same time, and consequently unintel- 
ligible. One of them wore the bars of a captain. I said 
to them, pleasantly, "Boys, I cannot understand you. 
Pray, let your captain say what you want, and what I 
can do for you." They complied, and the captain put 
me in possession of the following facts : 

They belonged to the Third Vermont Eegiment, raised, 
with the exception of one company, on the eastern slope 
of the Green Mountains, and mustered into service while 
the battle of Bull Run was progressing. They were im- 
mediately sent to "Washington, and since their arrival, 
during the last days of July, had been stationed at the 
Chain Bridge, some three miles above Georgetown. 
Company K, to which most of them belonged, was 
largely made up of farmer-boys, many of them still in 
their minority. 

The sterile flanks of the mountains of Yermont have, 
to some extent, been abandoned for the more fertile re- 
gions of the West, and are now open to immigration 
from the more barren soils of Scandinavia and the Alps. 
Fifty years ago these Vermont mountains reared men 
who have since left their impress upon the enterprise of 
the world. The hard conditions of life in these moun- 
tains then required the most unbroken regularity in the 
continuous struggle for existence. To rise and retire 
with the sun, working through all the hours of daylight, 
sleeping through all the hours of night, was the univer- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 267 

sal rule. Such industry, practised from childhood, united 
to a thrift and economy no longer known in the republic, 
enabled the Vermonter to pay his taxes and train up his 
family in obedience to the laws of God and his country. 
Nowhere under the sun were charity, benevolence, mu- 
tual help, and similar virtues more finely developed or 
universally practised than among these hard-handed, 
kind-hearted mountaineers. 

The story which I extracted from the " boys " was, in 
substance, this : William Scott, one of these mountain- 
boys, just of age, had enlisted in Company K. Accus- 
tomed to his regular sound and healthy sleep, not yet 
inured to the life of the camp, he had volunteered to 
take the place of a sick comrade who had been detailed 
for picket duty, and had passed the night as a sentinel 
on guard. The next day he was himself detailed for 
the same duty, and undertook its performance. But he 
found it impossible to keep awake for two nights in suc- 
cession, and had been found by the relief sound asleep 
on his post. For this offence he had been tried by a 
court-martial, found guilty, and sentenced to be shot 
within twenty-four hours after his trial, and on the sec- 
ond morning after his offence was committed. 

Scott's comrades had set about saving him in a char- 
acteristic way. They had called a meeting, appointed 
a committee, with power to use all the resources of the 
regiment in his behalf. Strangers in Washington, the 
committee had resolved to call on me for advice, because 
I was a Vermonter, and they had already marched from 
the camp to my office since daylight that morning. 

The captain took all the blame from Scott upon himself. 
Scott's mother opposed his enlistment on the ground of 
his inexperience, and had only consented on the captain's 
promise to look after him as if he were his own son. This 



268 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

he had wholly failed to do. He must have been asleep 
or stupid himself, he said, when he paid no attention to 
the boy's statement that he had fallen asleep during the 
day, and feared he could not keep awake the second 
night on picket. Instead of sending some one, or going 
himself in Scott's place, as he should, he had let him go 
to his death. He alone was guilty " if any one ought 
to be shot, I am the fellow, and everybody at home 
would have the right to say so." " There must be some 
way to save him, judge !" (They all called me judge.) 
" He is as good a boy as there is in the army, and he ain't 
to blame. You will help us, now, won't you ?" he said, 
almost with tears. 

The other members of the committee had a definite, 
if not a practicable, plan. They insisted that Scott had 
not been tried, and gave this account of the proceeding. 
He was asked what he had to say to the charge, and 
said he would tell them just how it all happened. He 
had never been up all night that he remembered. He 
was " all beat out " by the night before, and knew he 
should have a hard fight to keep awake ; he thought of 
hiring one of the boys to go in his place, but they might 
think he was afraid to do his duty, and he decided to 
" chance it." Twice he went to sleep and woke himself 
while he was marching, and then he could not tell any- 
thing about it all he knew was that he was sound asleep 
when the guard came. It was very wrong, he knew. 
He wanted to be a good soldier, and do all his duty. 
What else did he enlist for? They could shoot him, 
and perhaps they ought to, but he could not have tried 
harder ; and if he was in the same place again, he could 
no more help going to sleep than he could fly. 

One must have been made of sterner stuff than I was 
not to be touched by the earnest manner with which 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 269 

these men offered to devote even their farms to the aid 
of their comrade. The captain and the others had no 
need of words to express their emotions. I saw that 
the situation was surrounded by difficulties of which 
they knew nothing. They had subscribed a sum of 
money to pay counsel, and offered to pledge their credit 
to any amount necessary to secure him a fair trial. 

" Put up your money," I said. " It will be long after 
this when one of my name takes money for helping a 
Yermont soldier. I know facts which touch this case 
of which you know nothing. I fear that nothing effect- 
ual can be done for your comrade. The courts and law- 
yers can do nothing. I fear that we can do no more ; 
but we can try." 

I must digress here to say that the Chain Bridge across 
the Potomac was one of the positions upon which the 
safety of "Washington depended. The Confederates had 
fortified the approach to it on the Virginia side, and the 
Federals on the hills of Maryland opposite. Here, for 
months, the opposing forces had confronted each other. 
There had been no fighting ; the men, and even the offi- 
cers, had gradually contracted an intimacy, and, having 
nothing better to do, had swapped stories and other prop- 
erty until they had come to live upon the footing of 
good neighbors rather than mortal enemies. This rela- 
tion was equally inconsistent with the safety of Wash- 
ington and the stern discipline of war. Its discovery 
had excited alarm, and immediate measures were taken 
to break it up. General W. F. Smith, better known as 
" Baldy " Smith, had been appointed colonel of the Third 
Vermont Kegiment, placed in command of the post, and 
undertook to correct the irregularity. 

General Smith, a Vermonter by birth, a "West-Pointer 
by education, was a soldier from spur to crown. Possi- 



2TO RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

bly he had natural sympathies, but they were so subor- 
dinated to the demands of his profession that they might 
as well not have existed. He regarded a soldier as so 
much valuable material, to be used with economy, like 
powder and lead, to the best advantage. The soldier 
was not worth much to him until his individuality was 
suppressed and converted into the unit of an army. He 
must be taught obedience ; discipline must never be re- 
laxed. In the demoralization which existed at the Chain 
Bridge, in his opinion, the occasional execution of a sol- 
dier would tend to enforce discipline, and in the end 
promote economy of life. He had issued orders de- 
claring the penalty of death for military offences, 
among others that of a sentinel sleeping upon his post. 
His orders were made to be obeyed. Scott was, appa- 
rently, their first victim. It went without saying that 
any appeal in his behalf to General Smith would lead 
to nothing but loss of time. 

The more I reflected upon what I was to do, the more 
hopeless the case appeared. Thought was useless. I 
must act upon impulse, or I should not act at all. 

" Come," I said, " there is only one man on earth who 
can save your comrade. Fortunately, he is the best man 
on the continent. We will go to President Lincoln." 

I went swiftly out of the Treasury over to the "White 
House, and up the stairway to the little office where the 
President was writing. The boys followed in a proces- 
sion. I did not give the thought time to get any hold 
on me that I, an officer of the government, was commit- 
ting an impropriety in thus rushing a matter upon the 
President's attention. The President was the first to 
speak. 

"What is this?" he asked. "An expedition to kid- 
nap somebody, or to get another brigadier appointed, or 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 271 

for a furlough to go home to vote? I cannot do it, 
gentlemen. Brigadiers are thicker than drum-majors, 
and I couldn't get a furlough for myself if I asked it 
from the War Department." 

There was hope in the tone in which he spoke. I 
went straight to my point. "Mr. President," I said, 
"these men want nothing for themselves. They are 
Green Mountain boys of the Third Vermont, who have 
come to stay as long as you need good soldiers. They 
don't want promotion until they earn it. But they do 
want something that you alone can give them the life 
of a comrade." 

" What has he done ?" asked the President. " You 
Vermonters are not a bad lot, generally. Has he com- 
mitted murder or mutiny, or what other felony ?" 

" Tell him," I whispered to the captain. 

" I cannot ! I cannot ! I should stammer like a fool ! 
You can do it better !" 

" Captain," I said, pushing him forward, " Scott's life 
depends on you. You must tell the President the story. 
I only know it from hearsay." 

He commenced like the man by the Sea of Galilee, 
who had an impediment in his speech ; but very soon 
the string of his tongue was loosened, and he spoke 
plain. He began to word-paint a picture with the hand 
of a master. As the words burst from his lips they 
stirred my own blood. He gave a graphic account of 
the whole story, and ended by saying, " He is as brave 
a boy as there is in your army, sir. Scott is no coward. 
Our mountains breed no cowards. They are the homes 
of thirty thousand men who voted for Abraham Lincoln. 
They will not be able to see that the best thing to be 
done with William Scott will be to shoot him like a trai- 
tor and bury him like a dog ! Oh, Mr. Lincoln, can you ?" 



272 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

" No, I can't !" exclaimed the President. It was one 
of the moments when his countenance became such a 
remarkable study. It had become very earnest as the 
captain rose with his subject ; then it took on that mel- 
ancholy expression which, later in his life, became so in- 
finitely touching. I thought I could detect a mist in 
the deep cavities of his eyes. Then, in a flash, there 
was a total change. He smiled, and finally broke into 
a hearty laugh, as he asked me, 

" Do your Green Mountain boys fight as well as they 
talk ? If they do, I don't wonder at the legends about 
Ethan Allen." Then his face softened as he said, " But 
what can I do? What do you expect me to do? As 
you know, I have not much influence with the depart- 
ments ?" 

" I have not thought the matter out," I said. " I feel 
a deep interest in saving young Scott's life. I think I 
knew the boy's father. It is useless to apply to Gen- 
eral Smith. An application to Secretary Stanton would 
only be referred to General Smith. The only thing to 
be done was to apply to you. It seems to me that, if 
you would sign an order suspending Scott's execution 
until his friends can have his case examined, I might 
carry it to the War Department, and so insure the de- 
livery of the order to General Smith to-day, through the 
regular channels of the War Office." 

" No ! I do not think that course would be safe. You 
do not know these officers of the regular army. They 
are a law unto themselves. They sincerely think that 
it is good policy occasionally to shoot a soldier. I can 
see it, where a soldier deserts or commits a crime, but I 
cannot in such a case as Scott's. They say that I am 
always interfering with the discipline of the army, and 
being cruel to the soldiers. Well, I can't help it, so I 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 273 

shall have to go right on doing wrong. I do not think 
an honest, brave soldier, conscious of no crime but sleep- 
ing when he was weary, ought to be shot or hung. The 
country has better uses for him." 

" Captain," continued the President, " your boy shall 
not be shot that is, not to-morrow, nor until I know 
more about his case." To me he said, " I will have to 
attend to this matter myself. I have for some time in- 
tended to go up to the Chain Bridge. I will do so to- 
day. I shall then know that there is no mistake in sus- 
pending the execution." 

I remarked that he was undertaking a burden which 
we had no right to impose ; that it was asking too much 
of the President in behalf of a private soldier. 

" Scott's life is as valuable to him as that of any per- 
son in the land," he said. " You remember the remark 
of a Scotchman about the head of a nobleman who was 
decapitated. ' It was a small matter of a head, but it 
was valuable to him, poor fellow, for it was the only one 
he had.'" 

I saw that remonstrance was vain. I suppressed the 
rising gratitude of the soldiers, and we took our leave. 
Two members of " the committee " remained to watch 
events in the city, while the others returned to carry the 
news of their success to Scott and to the camp. Later 
in the day the two members reported that the President 
had started in the direction of the camp ; that their work 
here was ended, and they proposed to return to their 
quarters. 

Within a day or two the newspapers reported that a 
soldier, sentenced to be shot for sleeping on his post, had 
been pardoned by the President and returned to his reg- 
iment. Other duties pressed me, and it was December 
before I heard anything further from Scott. Then an- 
18 



274 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

other elderly soldier of the same company, whose health 
had failed, and who was arranging for his own discharge, 
called upon me, and I made inquiry about Scott. The 
soldier gave an enthusiastic account of him. He was in 
splendid health, was very athletic, popular with every- 
body, and had the reputation of being the best all-around 
soldier in the company, if not in the regiment. His mate 
was the elderly soldier who had visited me with the party 
in September, who would be able to tell me all about 
him. To him I sent a message, asking him to see me 
when he was next in the city. His name was Ellis or 
Evans. 

Not long afterwards he called at my office, and, as his 
leave permitted, I kept him overnight at my house, and 
gathered from him the following facts about Scott. He 
said that, as we supposed, the President went to the 
camp, had a long conversation with Scott, at the end of 
which he was sent back to his company a free man. The 
President had given him a paper, which he preserved 
very carefully, which was supposed to be his discharge 
from the sentence. A regular order for his pardon had 
been read in the presence of the regiment, signed by 
General McClellan, but every one knew that his life had 
been saved by the President. 

From that day Scott was the most industrious man in 
the company. He was always at work, generally help- 
ing some other soldier. His arms and his dress were 
neat and cleanly ; he took charge of policing the com- 
pany's quarters ; was never absent at roll-call, unless he 
was sent away, and always on hand if there was any 
work to be done. He was very strong, and practised 
feats of strength until he could pick up a man lying on 
the ground and carry him away on his shoulders. He 
was of great use in the hospital, and in all the serious 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 275 

cases sought employment as a nurse, because it trained 
him in night -work and keeping awake at night. He 
soon attracted attention. He was offered promotion, 
which, for some reason, he declined. 

It was a long time before he would speak of his inter- 
view with Mr. Lincoln. One night, when he had re- 
ceived a long letter from home, Scott opened his heart, 
and told Evans the story. 

Scott said : " The President was the kindest man I had 
ever seen ; I knew him at once, by a Lincoln medal I 
had long worn. I was scared at first, for I had never 
before talked with a great man. But Mr. Lincoln was 
so easy with me, so gentle, that I soon forgot my fright. 
He asked me all about the people at home, the neigh- 
bors, the farm, and where I went to school, and who 
my schoolmates were. Then he asked me about mother, 
and how she looked, and I was glad I could take her 
photograph from my bosom and show it to him. He 
said how thankful I ought to be that my mother still 
lived, and how, if he was in my place, he would try to 
make her a proud mother, and never cause her a sorrow 
or a tear. I cannot remember it all, but every word was 
so kind. 

"He had said nothing yet about that dreadful next 
morning. I thought it must be that he was so kind- 
hearted that he didn't like to speak of it. But why did 
he say so much about my mother, and my not causing 
her a sorrow or a tear when I knew that I must die the 
next morning ? But I supposed that was something that 
would have to go unexplained, and so I determined to 
brace up, and tell him that I did not feel a bit guilty, 
and ask him wouldn't he fix it so that the firing-party 
would not be from our regiment ! That was going to 
be the hardest of all to die by the hands of my com- 



276 BECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

rades. Just as I was going to ask him this favor, he 
stood up, and he says to me, ' My boy, stand up here 
and look me in the face.' I did as he bade me. ' My 
boy,' he said, ' you are not going to be shot to-morrow. 
I believe you when you tell me that you could not keep 
awake. I am going to trust you, and send you back to 
your regiment. But I have been put to a good deal of 
trouble on your account. I have had to come up here 
from Washington when I have got a great deal to do ; 
and what I want to know is, how you are going to pay 
my bill ?' There was a big lump in my throat ; I could 
scarcely speak. I had expected to die, you see, and had 
kind of got used to thinking that way. To have it all 
changed in a minute ! But I got it crowded down, and 
managed to say, I am grateful, Mr. Lincoln ! I hope I 
am as grateful as ever a man can be to you for saving 
my life. But it comes upon me sudden and unexpected 
like. I didn't lay out for it at all. But there is some 
way to pay you, and I will find it after a little. There 
is the bounty in the savings-bank. I guess we could bor- 
row some money on the mortgage of the farm. There 
was my pay was something, and if he would wait until 
pay-day I was sure the boys would help, so I thought 
we could make it up, if it wasn't more than five or six 
hundred dollars. ' But it is a great deal more than that,' 
he said. Then I said I didn't just see how, but I was 
sure I would find some way if I lived. 

" Then Mr. Lincoln put his hands on my shoulders and 
looked into my face as if he was sorry, and said, ' My 
boy, my bill is a very large one. Your friends cannot 
pay it, nor your bounty, nor the farm, nor all your com- 
rades ! There is only one man in all the world who can 
pay it, and his name is William Scott ! If from this day 
William Scott does his duty, so that, if I was there when 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 277 

he comes to die, he can look me in the face as he does 
now, and say, I have kept my promise, and I have done 
my duty as a soldier, then my debt will be paid. Will 
you make that promise and try to keep it ?' 

" I said I would make the promise, and, with God's 
help, I would keep it. I could not say any more. I 
wanted to tell him how hard I would try to do all he 
wanted ; but the words would not come, so I had to let 
it all go unsaid. He went away, out of my sight for- 
ever. I know I shall never see him again ; but may 
God forget me if I ever forget his kind words or my 
promise." 

This was the end of the story of Evans, who got his 
discharge, and went home at the close of the year. I 
heard from Scott occasionally afterwards. He was gain- 
ing a wonderful reputation as an athlete. He was the 
strongest man in the regiment. The regiment was en- 
gaged in two or three reconnoissances in force, in which 
he performed the most exposed service with singular 
bravery. If any man was in trouble, Scott was his good 
Samaritan ; if any soldier was sick, Scott was his nurse. 
He was ready to volunteer for any extra service or labor 
he had done some difficult and useful scouting. He 
still refused promotion, saying that he had done nothing 
worthy of it. The final result was that he was the gen- 
eral favorite of all his comrades, the most popular man 
in the regiment, and modest, unassuming, and unspoiled 
by his success. 

The next scene in this drama opens on the Peninsula, 
between the York and the James rivers, in March, 1862. 
The sluggish Warwick River runs from its source, near 
Yorktown, across the Peninsula to its discharge. It 
formed at that time a line of defence, which had been 
fortified by General Magruder, and was held by him with 



278 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

a force of some twelve thousand Confederates. York- 
town was an important position to the Confederates. 

On the 15th of April the division of General Smith 
was ordered to stop the enemy's work on the entrench- 
ments at Lee's Mills, the strongest position on the War- 
wick River. His force consisted of the Vermont brigade 
of five regiments, and three batteries of artillery. After 
a lively skirmish, which occupied the greater part of the 
forenoon, this order was executed, and should have ended 
the movement. 

But about noon General McClellan with his staff, in- 
cluding the French princes, came upon the scene, and 
ordered General Smith to assault and capture the rebel 
works on the opposite bank. Some discretion was given 
to General Smith, who was directed not to bring on a 
general engagement, but to withdraw his men if he 
found the defence too strong to be overcome. This dis- 
cretion cost many lives when the moment came for its 
exercise. 

General Smith disposed his forces for the assault, 
which was made by Companies D, E, F, and K of the 
Third Vermont Regiment, covered by the artillery, with 
the Vermont brigade in reserve. About four o'clock in 
the afternoon the charge was ordered. Unclasping their 
belts, and holding their guns and cartridge-boxes above 
their heads, the Vermonters dashed into and across the 
stream at Dam Number One, the strongest position in the 
Confederate line, and cleared out the rifle-pits. But the 
earthworks were held by an overwhelming force of reb- 
els, and proved impregnable. After a dashing attack 
upon them the Vermonters were repulsed, and were or- 
dered to retire across the river. They retreated under a 
heavy fire, leaving nearly half their number dead or 
wounded in the river and on the opposite shore. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 2Y9 

Every member of these four companies was a brave 
man. But all the eye-witnesses agreed that among 
those who in this, their first hard battle, faced death 
without blenching, there was none braver or more effi- 
cient than William Scott, of Company K, debtor for his 
own life to President Lincoln. He was almost the first 
to reach the south bank of the river, the first in the rifle- 
pits, and the last to retreat. He recrossed the river with 
a wounded officer on his back he carried him to a place 
of safety, and returned to assist his comrades, who did 
not agree on the number of wounded men saved by him 
from drowning or capture, but all agreed that he had 
carried the last wounded man from the south bank, and 
was nearly across the stream, when the fire of the rebels 
was concentrated upon him ; he staggered with his liv- 
ing burden to the shore and fell. 

An account of the closing scene in the life of William 
Scott was given me by a wounded comrade, as he lay 
upon his cot in a hospital tent, near Columbia College, in 
Washington, after the retreat of the army from the 
Peninsula. " He was shot all to pieces," said private H. 
" We carried him back, out of the line of fire, and laid 
him on the grass to die. His body was shot through and 
through, and the blood was pouring from his many 
wounds. But his strength was great, and such a power- 
ful man was hard to kill. The surgeons checked the 
flow of blood they said he had rallied from the shock ; 
we laid him on a cot in a hospital tent, and the boys 
crowded around him, until the doctors said they must 
leave if he was to have any chance at all. We all knew 
he must die. We dropped on to the ground wherever 
we could, and fell into a broken slumber wounded and 
well side by side. Just at daylight the word was passed 
that Scott wanted to see us afl. We went into his tent 



280 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

and stood around his cot. His face was bright and his 
voice cheerful. ' Boys,' he said, ' I shall never see another 
battle. I supposed this would be my last. I haven't 
much to say. You all know what you can tell them at 
home about me. I have tried to do the right thing ! I 
am almost certain you will all say that? Then while his 
strength was failing, his life ebbing away, and we looked 
to see his voice sink into a whisper, his face lighted up and 
his voice came out natural and clear as he said : ' If any 
of you ever have the chance, I wish you would tell Presi- 
dent Lincoln that I have never forgotten the kind words he 
said to me at the Chain Bridge that I have tried to be 
a good soldier and true to the flag that I should have 
paid my whole debt to him if I had lived ; and that now, 
when I know that I am dying, I think of his kind face 
and thank him again, because he gave me the chance to 
fall like a soldier in battle, and not like a coward by the 
hands of my comrades.' 

" His face, as he uttered these words, was that of a 
happy man. Not a groan or an expression of pain, not a 
word of complaint or regret came from his lips. ' Good- 
bye, boys,' he said, cheerily. Then he closed his own 
eyes, crossed his hands on his breast, and and that 
was all. His face was at rest, and we all said it was 
beautiful. Strong men stood around his bed ; they had 
seen their comrades fall, and had been very near to death 
themselves : such men are accustomed to control their 
feelings ; but now they wept like children. One only 
spoke, as if to himself, * Thank God, I know now how a 
brave man dies.' 

" Scott would have been satisfied to rest in the same 
grave with his comrades," the wounded soldier con- 
tinued. " But we wanted to know where he lay. There 
was a small grove of cherry-trees just in the rear of the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 281 

camp, with a noble oak in its centre. At the foot of this 
oak we dug his grave. There we laid him, with his 
empty rifle and accoutrements by his side. Deep into 
the oak we cut the initials, "W. S., and under it the 
words, 'A brave soldier.' Our chaplain said a short 
prayer. We fired a volley over his grave. Will you 
carry his last message to the President ?" I answered, 
" Yes." 

Some days passed before I again met the President. 
When I saw him I asked if he remembered William 
Scott ? 

" Of Company K, Third Vermont Volunteers ?" he 
answered. "Certainly I do. He was the boy that 
Baldy Smith wanted to shoot at the Chain Bridge. 
What about WiUiam Scott ?" 

" He is dead. He was killed on the Peninsula," I an- 
swered. " I have a message from him for you, which I 
have promised one of his comrades to deliver." 

A look of tenderness swept over his face as he ex- 
claimed, " Poor boy ! Poor boy ! And so he is dead. And 
he sent me a message ! Well, I think I will not have it 
now. I will come and see you." 

He kept his promise. Before many days he made one 
of his welcome visits to my office. He said he had come 
to hear Scott's message. I gave it as nearly as possible in 
Scott's own words. Mr. Lincoln had perfect control of 
his own countenance : when he chose, he could make it a 
blank ; when he did not care to control it, his was the most 
readable of speaking human faces. He drew out from 
me all I knew about Scott and about the people among 
whom he lived. When I spoke of the intensity of their 
sympathies, especially in sorrow and trouble, as a charac- 
teristic trait of mountaineers, he interrupted me and 
said, " It is equally common on the prairies. It is the 






282 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

privilege of the poor. I know all about it from experi- 
ence, and I hope I have my full share of it. Yes, I can 
sympathize with sorrow." 

" Mr. President," 1 said, " I have never ceased to re- 
proach myself for thrusting Scott's case so unceremo- 
niously before you for causing you to take so much 
trouble for a private soldier. But I gave way to an im- 
pulse I could not endure the thought that Scott should 
be shot. He was a fellow- Yermonter and I knew there 
was no other way to save his life." 

" I advise you always to yield to such impulses, " he 
said. " You did me as great a favor as the boy. It was 
a new experience for me a study that was interest- 
ing, though I have had more to do with people of his 
class than any other. Did you know that Scott and I 
had a long visit ? I was much interested in the boy. I 
am truly sorry that he is dead, for he was a good boy 
too good a boy to be shot for obeying nature. I am glad 
I interfered." 

"Mr. Lincoln, I wish your treatment of this matter 
could be written into history." 

" Tut ! Tut !" he broke in ; " none of that. By the 
way, do you remember what Jeanie Deans said to Queen 
Caroline when the Duke of Argyle procured her an op- 
portunity to beg for her sister's life ?" 

" I remember the incident well, but not the language." 

" I remember both. This is the paragraph in point : 
' It is not when we sleep soft and wake merrily ourselves 
that we think on other people's sufferings. Our hearts 
are waxed light within us then, and we are for righting 
our ain wrangs and fighting our ain battles. But when 
the hour of trouble comes to the mind or to the body 
and when the hour of death comes, that comes to high 
and low oh, then it isna what we hae dune for our- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 283 

sells, but what we hae dune for others, that we think on 
maist pleasantly. And the thoughts that ye hae inter- 
vened to spare the puir thing's life will be sweeter in that 
hour, come when it may, than if a word of your mouth 
could hang the whole Porteous mob at the tail of ae 
tow." 



XXXIII. 

TREASURY NOTES AND NOTES ON THE TREASURY. 

No nation has a better Treasury system than the United 
States. When its regulations are enforced, it practically 
guarantees the government against loss by error or fraud. 
It involves the division of the department into bureaus, 
each directly responsible to the secretary, having little 
connection with each other, and at least three of which 
must approve a claim before it can be paid, each thus 
acting as a check upon the other. It recognizes the fact 
that the subordinates in a bureau, subject to removal by 
its chief, will obey the orders of that chief, although they 
may involve a violation of law, so that checks within a 
bureau are unreliable. But if the payment of a claim 
requires an examination by three persons in as many 
bureaus, and the approval of the heads of each, a con- 
spiracy to defraud becomes difficult and practically im- 
possible. Frauds upon the Treasury proper have been 
extremely rare. The Assistant Treasuries are abnormal 
growths, not subject to these checks, and frauds upon 
them, involving large losses, have consequently been per- 
petrated. The manufacture and issue of the postal and 
fractional currency was another excrescence permitted 
to attach itself to the system, and the account of that 
issue cannot be verified. It was the only issue of the war 
about which there existed any doubt. The account may 
be correct, but it is possible that some millions of dol- 
lars of that currency more than the amount shown by the 
books of the Treasurer were put in circulation. It might 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 285 

have been done without detection, for the white paper 
was turned into money, ready for issue by a single de- 
partment, under a single head, without supervision or the 
co-operation of any other department or person. 

Originally adapted to an expenditure of $25,000,000 
per annum, the Treasury system had the capacity of in- 
definite expansion without impairing its security. In 
March, 1861, it regulated an expenditure averaging 
about $8,000,000 per month. Within sixty days it in- 
creased to more than $2,000,000 per day, and ultimately 
to more than $1,000,000,000 per annum. Yet the sys- 
tem required no change except an increase of clerical 
force. Thus it happened that during four years of war 
more than $3,000,000,000 was received and covered into 
the Treasury, and an equal value of securities issued and 
delivered to those who were entitled to receive them, 
without the loss of one dollar by error or fraud. This 
statement rests upon absolute demonstration, and not 
upon evidence alone. The amount is as far as infinity 
beyond ordinary human comprehension. The statement 
and the system which verifies it are wonders of finance 
in a country convulsed by civil war. 

The Treasury was the creation of Alexander Hamil- 
ton. It will live as long as the nation exists, and every 
one who comprehends it will accept it as a monument of 
the financial ability of its author. It may be criticised 
by those who do not understand it as an institution of 
red tape, but no experienced Treasury officer ever ad- 
vised the removal of one of its checks, or the relaxation 
of one of its stringent provisions. 

There were three frauds attempted during the secre- 
taryship of Mr. Chase. Two of them came as near 
success as the Treasury system would permit, and per- 
haps their frustration must in some degree be attrib- 



286 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

uted to the merits of the system, united with good 
fortune. 

Among the inheritances from the administration of 
Mr. Buchanan was an application for the reissue of a lot 
of coupon bonds alleged to have been destroyed. The 
claimants proved the facts as clearly as human testimony 
could that these bonds, each with six coupons attached, 
were deposited in a locked mail-bag in Frankfort, trans- 
ported to Liverpool, and there delivered into the hands 
of an agent of the post-office on board a steamship which 
was wrecked by collision, and went, with all its mails, 
and all but two or three of those on board, to the bot- 
tom of the sea. The completeness of the evidence was 
itself a source of suspicion, and, much to the chagrin of 
the claimants, Secretary Chase affirmed the decision of a 
bureau officer, that the duplicates should not be issued 
except by the direction of Congress. On the application 
of the claimants at the next session, Congress passed an 
act directing the issue of the duplicates. The claim was 
again presented with the act, and the duplicates were 
demanded. The same bureau officer again represented 
his suspicions to the secretary, and, with the sanction of 
the latter, the present regulation was adopted, interpos- 
ing a delay of twelve months after proof of the claim 
before the actual issue. This rule was vehemently aa- 
sailed by the claimants through the press; they even 
charged the officer with intentionally nullifying the au- 
thority of Congress. 

At this time the coupons of bonds redeemed were in 
packages in the Kegister's file-room. There was little 
need of their examination, and no attempt had been 
made to arrange them in consecutive order. Books were 
now made with one page appropriated to each bond, and 
a space for each coupon, while a force of clerks was de- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 287 

tailed to place each redeemed coupon in its appropriate 
space. 

At the expiration of the year the claimants came for 
their duplicates. They were assured that they would 
now be issued unless some satisfactory reason could be 
shown for further delay. The books were sent for, and 
in their proper spaces were found all the coupons which 
had been proved to have sunk to the bottom of the sea ! 
A few months later the bonds themselves were presented 
for redemption, and, no adverse claims being made, they 
were paid. 

What was the explanation of this mystery ? I do not 
know. The pressure of official duties, and the anxieties 
of war which occupied us so incessantly, prevented any 
further investigation, and the inquiry will probably never 
be answered. 

The next fraud wjhich I recall was a success as far as 
the department was concerned. The loss of the money 
was prevented by an accident. 

The course of proceeding for the collection of a claim 
for army supplies was usually this : The contractor made 
his collections through his banker. His monthly account 
was made up in conformity with all the rules of the War 
Office, and transmitted to that office with a letter of di- 
rections where the draft should be sent. The War Office 
approved the claim if correct, and transmitted the ac- 
count, the letter, and the action of the War Department 
to the Secretary of the Treasury, by whom it was sent to 
the proper auditor, whose duty it was to audit the claim. 
If he decided that the claim was a proper one, it was sent 
to the comptroller, who revised the action of the auditor, 
and, if correct, approved it, sending the account with the 
accompanying documents to the secretary, who issued 
the warrant for its payment. This warrant was counter- 



288 RECOLLECTIONS OP PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

signed by the comptroller, and entered on the books of 
the Register; the treasurer then drew his draft upon 
one of the depositories for its payment, and the draft 
was sent by mail, according to the original letter of in- 
struction, which constituted one of the file papers. The 
file was then sent to the Register's file-room, and there 
remained. It comprised all the papers, showing a com- 
plete history of the transaction. 

On the occasion in question the cashier of one of the 
Washington banks came to the office of the Register 
with a draft just issued for more than $80,000, payable 
to a well-known Massachusetts contractor, and regularly 
endorsed. It had been presented by the head porter of 
Willard's Hotel, a reliable man, who said that the payee 
was ill and unable to leave his room. He had therefore 
requested him to collect the draft in notes, if possible, of 
$1000 each. "Without any apparent reason the cashier 
said his suspicions were excited, and he went with the 
porter to the hotel to see the payee, and be sure that the 
transaction was all right. But the sick gentleman had 
disappeared. He had probably watched the porter, and, 
finding that there was delay in the payment, had vanished. 

The file was sent for, and the letter found, directing 
that the draft be sent to the contractor at Willard's 
Hotel. He was communicated with by telegraph, and 
said that the letter was a forgery. He had given the 
same directions in this case as in his former collections. 

This fraud was consummated by an outsider with the 
assistance of a clerk in the Treasury. No outsider could 
have obtained access to the files in order to remove the 
true letter and substitute the forgery. Such a fraud 
could not be prevented by any system. Fortunately the 
suspicions or the prudence of the cashier prevented any 
loss. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 289 

In another instance the fraud was successful, but its 
fruits were wholly recovered and returned to the Treas- 
ury. It had some interesting features. One of the most 
difficult subjects which engaged our attention was the 
complete destruction of the Treasury notes withdrawn 
from circulation, or so worn or mutilated that they were 
unfit to be reissued. The bulk of these issues was very 
great. The first so withdrawn were called the " demand 
notes." They were issued under a special act, and, being 
receivable for duties, bore a premium nearly equal to 
gold. There were sixty million dollars of them in small 
denominations, and their issue involved the use of many 
cords of paper. After the financial system authorized 
by the act of February 25, 1862, had been instituted, this 
issue was redeemed, and the notes corded up in the treas- 
urer's vaults. The pf oblem was to count these notes, de- 
stroy them beyond the possibility of a reissue, and give 
the treasurer credit for them without any opportunity for 
reissue or fraud. 

After much deliberation the following plan was de- 
vised: The notes were separated into denominations, 
and made into packages uniform in amount, and each 
package was cut into halves, lengthwise. The upper 
halves were delivered to the superintendent of a force of 
counters in the office of the treasurer ; the lower halves 
to the head of a like force in the office of the register. 
These two forces had no communication with each other. 
Each counted their respective packages, and made a rec- 
ord of each one. The records were compared in another 
office, and, if they agreed, the count was supposed to be 
correct. The counted packages were then delivered to a 
committee of citizens, and by them placed in a furnace 
in the basement of the Treasury, which had been heated 
to a white heat ; the door was locked, and the combus- 
19 



290 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

tion watched by the committee through openings, until 
they were entirely consumed. The committee then veri- 
fied the facts by affidavit, upon which a warrant was is- 
sued to the treasurer to credit his account with the notes 
so destroyed. Receipts were given whenever the pack- 
ages changed hands. The process was expensive, com- 
plex, and supposed to be reliable. 

The burning of a cord or less of notes daily was a sub- 
ject of general curiosity. Applications to witness it be- 
came so frequent that an iron railing was built around 
the furnace, within which no one was admitted except 
the committee of citizens. A colored messenger one day 
applied for a permit for his boy of ten years to see the 
process. On the following day the messenger told me that 
his boy had asked him a singular question : " Whether it 
was right for Mr. Cornwell, when throwing the packages 
into the furnace, to drop one of them in the side pocket 
of his overcoat ?" 

Cornwell was a clerk in the bureau of General Spin- 
ner, the treasurer, whose duty it was to see the pack- 
ages cut in halves by the machine, and deliver them to 
the chiefs of the two divisions of counters. He had no 
right to touch them afterwards. His assisting in the 
work of the citizens' committee was an impertinent inter- 
ference with their duties which destroyed the value of the 
system, and was probably tolerated because of his official 
connection with the work of the treasurer's bureau, where 
he was a trusted clerk, I believe of the third class. 

The messenger was directed to go to his home and 
bring his son to the register's office. He proved to be a 
modest, intelligent lad, and greatly alarmed at the con- 
sequences of his question. " He was not certain," he 
said, " that he saw anything. But Mr. Cornwell worked 
very hard, and threw more packages into the furnace 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 291 

than all the other gentlemen. He wore an overcoat with 
a side pocket having a large opening, and once, as he 
was quickly passing his hand with the package from the 
basket toward the furnace door, he thought he saw one 
package drop into the large open pocket. He was not 
certain of this, however, and might be mistaken." 

The boy was sent home in charge of his father, who 
was told to keep him indoors, and not permit him to 
communicate with or see any other person. Without 
attempting to ascertain how any use could be made of 
these packages of half-notes, I directed the heads of the 
counting divisions not to permit any of their counters to 
leave the room, but to send for me when their day's work 
was finished. About four o'clock the accounts of the 
day were made up, and the aggregates appeared to agree. 
I then directed the counters in the two divisions to bring 
their packages together into one room, and place each 
package of upper with the corresponding package of 
lower halves. If there was no irregularity, as the day's 
work commenced with packages of entire bills, a package 
of lower should be found for every package of upper 
halves. But when the last two packages were reached, 
to the amazement and alarm of every counter, they 
would not match at all. Every counter knew that some- 
thing was wrong, and each was in terror lest he or she 
should be the one suspected. Some of the young women 
were in tears, and one or two gave indications of hyster- 
ics. They were dismissed with the assurance that no 
suspicion rested upon them, and that they would have 
no trouble if they kept the facts to themselves for the 
next twenty-four hours. 

The next morning Cornwell was called into the private 
room of the register and shown to a chair directly in 
front of that officer, who, without noticing him, went on 



292 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

with his regular work. Cornwell soon became nervous, 
and in an excited manner asked what was wanted of him. 
I replied that I had an impression that there was some- 
thing which he ought to disclose to me, and that I wanted 
him to consider thoroughly, without interruption. He in- 
sisted that he must return to his duties. I said that I had 
had him excused for the day, in order that he might as- 
sist me in the investigation of an irregularity. He soon 
became excited, and as he appeared to be summoning 
his fortitude to meet an emergency, I suddenly said to 
him, 

"Cornwell, you have been stealing, and your thefts 
have been detected !" 

I should fail if I attempted to describe the effect of 
these few words. His emotion was pitiable. A deathly 
pallor covered his face, and he seemed to be trying to 
swallow something which he could not. As commonly 
happens, Satan deserted his victim, and his first words 
were a fatal confession. After a supreme effort at self- 
control he said : 

" How did you find it out ?" 

" That is of no importance," I said. " What I want 
of you is to tell me how much you have taken, and where 
it is." 

He made no effort or struggle, but gave up at once. 
He took from his pocket a small blank-book, in which 
he had entered, from day to day, in regular order, the 
amount of his stealings. The following had been his 
method of procedure : He received from the treasurer 
daily, for example, $100,000, in ten packages of $10,000 
each, and became accountable for them. After seeing 
the whole bills divided in the machine, it was his duty 
to deliver and take a receipt for an equal number of pack- 
ages of upper halves from one division and of lower 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 293 

halves from the other division of the counters, so that 
the same number of packages of divided bills should be 
sent to the counting divisions which he had received in 
entire bills from the treasurer. Having abstracted a 
package of upper halves at one time and of lower halves 
at another while the bills, after having been counted, 
were being thrown into the furnace, he could then take 
a package of whole bills from those he received from the 
treasurer, and by substituting the packages of stolen 
halves for them in the delivery to the counters, his ac- 
count would appear to be correct. He would deliver to 
the counters just as many divided packages as he had re- 
ceived whole ones. But the two stolen packages would 
not fit or match together, as had been shown in the in- 
vestigation of the preceding day. 

I called a carriage; he entered it with me, and we 
drove to his house in Georgetown. On one of the upper 
floors he unlocked a small room, in which there was a 
new safe with a combination lock. This he also opened, 
took from it and delivered to me one package of $100,000 
in coupon 5-20 bonds, into which he had converted a por- 
tion of his booty through a firm of brokers in New York ; 
$50,000 in whole demand notes ; and packages of halves 
representing $20,000 more, making in the aggregate 
$170,000. Except a difference of a few dollars, caused 
by converting the demand notes at a premium into 
bonds, this aggregate agreed with the account of his 
abstractions, entered from day to day as they were made, 
upon his account-book. He strenuously insisted that this 
amount comprised every dollar of his thefts, and we never 
had the slightest reason to doubt his statement. 

He was indicted, and, upon his own confession, sen- 
tenced to ten years in the penitentiary, where I lost 
sight of him, and have no knowledge of his subsequent 



294 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

career. He maintained to the last that he never intended 
to wrong the United States. These notes, he said, had 
been issued at par, the government having received 100 
cents for each dollar of them. If they were redeemed 
at the same rate, the government was no loser. They 
happened to be worth a premium of sixty per cent. ; he 
thought he had as good a right to make that premium 
as the government. He had always intended to restore 
the par of these notes to the Treasury. To that end he 
had converted enough of them to purchase $100,000 in 
coupon bonds, which he intended to place to the credit 
of the Treasury conscience fund. His appropriation of 
the sixty per cent, premium, he insisted, was no crime, 
and he thought it was not even prohibited by the Treas- 
ury regulations. It is scarcely necessary to say that this 
reasoning neither satisfied the Treasury officers nor did 
it save him from the penitentiary. 

No loss to the Treasury could possibly have occurred 
in two of the instances above mentioned. 

After the close of the war there were many members of 
Congress and others who did not believe it possible that 
so large an amount of money as $3,000,000,000 could 
possibly have been received into the Treasury, securities 
issued for it, and placed in the hands of the large num- 
ber of persons entitled to them, without error or fraud, 
or any loss to the government. It was even suspected 
that the officers connected with the issue of these securi- 
ties must in some manner have profited thereby. Accord- 
ingly one of the first acts of each of the two or three 
succeeding Congresses was to raise a special committee 
to investigate the Treasury. The Treasury officers well 
knew that no fraud or irregularity could have occurred 
without immediate detection in the Treasury. They 
therefore regarded the proceedings of the committees 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 295 

with quiet unconcern. In the early days of the investi- 
gation cases were found which were supposed to involve 
the integrity of some of these officers, and they were 
notified that their immediate appearance before the com- 
mittee was necessary to their reputations. They did not 
appear, however, and in every case the committee found 
the explanation. These investigations were, as they 
should have been, thorough and exhaustive. But neither 
committee discovered any error, fraud, or loss to the gov- 
ernment in the department of the Treasury proper. No 
credit belongs to or was ever claimed by the officers of 
the Treasury for this result ; but it should at least be re- 
garded as most satisfactory evidence of the perfection of 
the Treasury system. 



XXXIV. 

NEW MONEYS OF LINCOLN'S ADMINISTRATION. DEMAND NOTES. 
SEVEN-THIRTIES. POSTAGE CURRENCY. FRACTIONAL CUR- 
RENCY. LEGAL-TENDER NOTES, OR " GREENBACKS." THEIR 
ORIGIN, GROWTH, AND VALUE. 

THE generation which elected President Lincoln had 
known only two kinds of money the notes of the state 
banks and the coins authorized by Congress. There 
were many varieties of the state bank-notes, variable in 
appearance as in value. The policy of Secretary Chase 
destroyed the circulation of the state bank-notes, and 
substituted for them the notes of the national banks, 
under which the holder was absolutely secured against 
loss. The necessities of war created several new kinds of 
paper money, and in some cases invented new names for 
them, such as " demand notes," " seven-thirties," " post- 
age currency," " fractional currency," and finally " legal 
tenders," popularly known as " greenbacks." 

The " Treasury notes," authorized by statutes in force 
on the 4th of March, 1861, did not circulate as money. 
They bore interest at the rate of six per cent., were pay- 
able one year after date, and issued in denominations of 
not less than fifty dollars. Before the extra session of 
Congress on July 4, 1861, the secretary had contrived 
to sell six and a half million dollars in these notes at par 
by offering with them a like amount in bonds on twenty 
years' time at six per cent, interest, at rates varying from 
85 to 92 per cent, of their par value. These amounts 
relieved the wants of the Treasury in a very slight de- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 297 

gree, and made no impression upon the circulation of 
the country. 

As the 4th of July approached it became apparent 
that some provision for the pay of the army and navy 
and other pressing demands must be made without wait- 
ing for the negotiation of a loan. The secretary accord- 
ingly recommended in his first report, and Congress by 
the act of July 17th authorized, the immediate issue of 
Treasury notes to the amount of fifty, afterwards in- 
creased to sixty million dollars, in denominations of not 
less than ten dollars, payable on demand without inter- 
est. On the 5th of August a supplemental act was passed, 
authorizing the issue in denominations as low as five dol- 
lars, and making these notes receivable for public dues. 
They were required to be signed by the treasurer and 
the register, or by some persons authorized by the sec- 
retary to sign for each of said officers. 

As soon as the plates could be engraved and the notes 
printed, a force of clerks was detailed to sign them, and 
their issue commenced. They were receivable for du- 
ties, and therefore almost equivalent in value to gold ; 
they were used in payment of the army and the navy, 
and of other pressing obligations; they relieved the 
wants of the secretary for October and November as 
fully as the same amount in coin; and they added so 
much to the circulating money of the country. They 
were of the same size, and in appearance closely resem- 
bled bank-notes. 

The passage of the legal-tender act of February 25, 
1862, which required the payment of duties in coin, in 
order to provide the gold for the payment of the inter- 
est upon the funded debt, made it necessary to redeem 
and cancel the notes so issued, because as long as they 
were outstanding they would take the place of an equal 



298 KECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

amount in gold. This act provided for their immediate 
redemption and cancellation. The issue began in Oc- 
tober; their redemption commenced in the following 
March ; after which they were not reissued, but can- 
celled and destroyed as fast as they flowed into the 
Treasury. The whole amount authorized, $60,000,000, 
was issued, and after twenty - eight years, on the 
31st of May, 1890, there were still outstanding, unre- 
deemed, of these notes, $56,445.00, or about one tenth 
of one per cent, of the issue. These notes acquired the 
name of, and have always been known as, the " demand 
notes." 

An incident occurred during the brief period of their 
circulation which, for a few hours, occasioned no little 
anxiety in the offices of the treasurer and the register. 
A small package of these notes, less than $100 in value, 
which were apparently unsigned, was presented for re- 
demption. They were not of consecutive numbers, but 
from several different sheets. If any were issued un- 
signed, it indicated an irregularity, and possibly a loss, 
the amount of which could not be ascertained. I was 
not willing to concede the fact without further investi- 
gation. The two names of the clerks who were deputed 
to sign for the treasurer and register were the only 
words written on the face of Ihe notes. Upon examin- 
ing them with a powerful glass, I could trace on the sur- 
face the whole signatures, although every particle of the 
ink had disappeared. Fortunately, the person who pre- 
sented them for payment was known. He was sent for, 
and proved to be a soldier who had received the notes 
from the paymaster. I asked him whether he had sub- 
mitted them to any manipulation. He replied that he 
had carried them in a money-belt upon his person through 
a campaign through the swamps of Carolina. They had 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 299 

been saturated with perspiration, with rain, fogs, and 
other moisture many times, and this usage had obliter- 
ated the signatures. This discovery did more than re- 
lieve our anxiety. It effectually disposed of the claim 
that the written signature was any check against fraud 
or forgery, so that when the legal-tender notes were un- 
der consideration it was decided that all the signatures 
should be engraved. 

The same act of July, 1861, authorized the issue of 
Treasury notes bearing interest at the rate of seven and 
three tenths per cent, per annum, payable three years 
from their date. The rate of interest, equal to one cent 
on $50 for every day, would, it was hoped, from its con- 
venience of computation, give these notes some circula- 
tion as currency. This hope was not realized, and these 
notes belong to the investment rather than the currency 
issues of the Treasury. They were known by the name 
of " seven-thirties " from their rate of interest. 

The suspension of specie payment by the banks in 
December, 1861, caused a disappearance of the gold and 
silver coins from circulation with marvellous celerity. 
They seemed to vanish in a day ; probably into the pri- 
vate hoards of the people, since the specie of the banks 
failed to show any considerable increase. War existed, 
no one could predict the future, the thrift and caution 
of the people led them to lay something aside which 
could not lose its purchasing power. They hastened to 
lay hold of these coins, and secrete them where they 
could be found when other means of subsistence failed. 

The scarcity of these coins produced great inconven- 
ience in business. It became almost impossible to make 
change in the ordinary purchases from dealers and mer- 
chants. Shinplasters began to make their appearance 
to supply the deficiency. In the rebellious states these 



300 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

were not only issued by individuals and private corpora- 
tions, but by states, counties, cities, towns, and all other 
municipal corporations. A collection of these rebel shin- 
plasters, upon all kinds of paper, from white writing to 
broAvn wrapping, would now be an interesting memento 
of the war, but in a pecuniary sense absolutely worth- 
less. 

The credit of devising a lawful and adequate remedy 
for this inconvenience belongs to General Francis E. Spin- 
ner, Treasurer of the United States. He found it impos- 
sible to facilitate, as he desired to do, the payment of the 
soldiers and sailors, and to conduct the business of the 
Treasury with the small coins at his command. He 
therefore arranged with the Post-office Department to 
redeem in unused stamps such postage-stamps as might 
be used for currency. In a short time his department 
manufactured and introduced a new issue. All the de- 
nominations were of uniform size. A piece of paper, 
with one stamp pasted on it, was five cents ; one with 
two stamps, ten cents ; five stamps, twenty-five cents ; 
and ten stamps, fifty cents. In this way, at the cost of 
a little labor, a considerable amount of small change was 
manufactured. This currency became so popular that, 
instead of using stamps, plates were engraved for each 
denomination, in imitation of the manufactured notes, 
the impressions from which had the same legal qualities 
and were used for the same purposes. These impressions 
were called the "postage currency." They were after- 
wards authorized by the act of July 17, 1862, which di- 
rected the secretary to furnish to the assistant treasu- 
rers " the postage and other stamps of the United States, 
to be exchanged by them on application for United States 
notes." These stamps were receivable in payment of all 
dues to the United States of less than five dollars, and 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 3Q1 

could be exchanged for United States notes when pre- 
sented in sums of not less than five dollars. The same 
act put an end to the further issue of shinplasters, by 
making the issue or circulation, by private persons or 
corporations, of notes or tokens for less than one dollar, 
punishable by fine and imprisonment. 

Although it did not come under my notice at the time, 
it appears from articles by Mr. C. Gregory, in the Phi- 
latelic Journal, in the year 1888, that there was prepared, 
and there have been recently submitted to me, specimens 
of an ingenious device for utilizing postage stamps as 
currency. It was invented by Mr. J. Gault, of New York 
city, and was patented in August, 1862. It consisted in 
encasing the stamp, with a thin sheet of mica covering its 
face, in a sheet of copper, neatly turned over its edges, and 
the mica cover, in the form of a circular plaque, having 
the dimensions of the ordinary twenty-five-cent piece. To 
hold the stamp more firmly in place, side-pieces of cop- 
per were added, which were turned over a small portion 
of the face in such a manner as not to interfere with its 
legibility, the denomination being plainly visible. The 
stamp thus encased could be carried in the pocket, and 
had all the conveniences, and almost the durability, of 
a copper coin. Trading and business firms were quick 
to appreciate its advantages. By stamping their busi- 
ness card, or any other legend of the firm, in the copper 
which covered the reverse of the stamp, it was made to 
serve as an advertisement. Its value as an advertise- 
ment was sufficient to pay the considerable expense of 
encasing the stamp. 

But for the act of March 3, 1863, which prohibited 
the use of these and all similar devices, the encased stamp 
must have had a considerable circulation. According 
to Mr. Gregory, Mr. Gault received so many orders for 



302 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

them that he could not supply the demand, although his 
shop was in operation night and day. He encased the 
eight denominations, from one cent to ninety cents each. 
It is of some interest, as showing the actual demands of 
commerce for fractional coins, to know that more of the 
one-cent value were ordered than of all the others ; the 
three cent came next ; those of five cents and ten cents 
taking third and fourth places. Thirty cents was the 
highest denomination ordered, and these only by one 
firm. A very small number of the denomination of 
ninety cents were made, and sold as specimens, which 
are now extremely rare. 

These stamps were ordered by firms in the retail dry- 
goods, grocery, jewellery, and other trades, insurance 
companies, owners of hotels, wine-stores, restaurants, and 
proprietary articles, more in number being required for 
the latter than for all the other trades combined. They 
were ordered by one firm of private bankers located in 
Montreal. They appear to have been circulated in New 
York, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Cincinnati, 
and several smaller Northern cities. 

It is also of interest that the limited use of this device 
should be known and preserved. I therefore describe 
the specimen now before me, for which I am indebted to 
Mr. Charles Gregory. It is the form in which, I think, 
stamps will be used as currency, if the restrictive act 
should be repealed and the necessity hereafter arise. 
The stamp is the blue one-cent stamp of the time, with 
the engraved head of Franklin, over which are the words 
" U. S. Postage," under it the words " One Cent." Over 
the face is a thin sheet of colorless mica, so transparent 
that its presence is not apparent to the eye. The cop- 
per covering, or frame, covers the reverse, the circular 
periphery, a space a sixty-fourth of an inch wide, around 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 303 

the face, with two oval side-pieces extending a fourth of 
an inch towards the centre. Stamped in the reverse of 
the copper frame is the advertisement of a proprietary 
article, and under that the words " Pat. Aug. 12, 1862. 
J. Gault." 

The convenience of the postage currency was great, 
and the amount called for increased to an extent which 
became troublesome to the Post-office Department, and 
the secretary decided to take it into the Treasury, where 
it legitimately belonged. Accordingly an act was passed 
which suspended its further issue, and substituted in its 
place currency of another description. 

The act of March 3, 1863, authorized the Secretary of 
the Treasury to issue " fractional notes," in such form as 
he deemed expedient, in lieu of postage and revenue 
stamps and of the fractional notes commonly called 
postage currency, and to provide for the engraving, 
preparation, and issue thereof in the Treasury Depart- 
ment building. Such notes were exchangeable for Treas- 
ury notes in sums of not less than three dollars, were re- 
ceivable for postage and revenue stamps and in payment 
of any dues to the United States less than five dollars, 
and were redeemable at the Treasury under regulations to 
be established by the secretary. The amount of the issue, 
including postage and revenue stamps issued as currency, 
was limited to $50,000,000. 

No currency issue of the government has ever accom- 
plished so much public convenience in proportion to its 
amount as the fractional currency. Its use was uninter- 
rupted until May 16, 1866, when the coining of five-cent 
pieces of copper and nickel was authorized, the further 
issue of fractional notes of a less denomination than ten 
cents was prohibited, and the five-cent notes outstanding 
were directed to be redeemed and cancelled. The act of 



304 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

the 14th of January, 1875, authorized the coinage of sil- 
ver coins of the value of ten, twenty-five, and fifty cents, 
to be issued in redemption of the fractional currency 
until the whole of it was redeemed. The whole amount 
issued, including the reissues in the place of worn and 
mutilated notes, has reached the enormous aggregate of 
$368,724,079.45. In other words, the amount author- 
ized of $50,000,000 has been reissued more than seven 
times. The act of June 21, 1879, provided for the re- 
demption of the fractional currency then outstanding 
with any money in the Treasury, and for its destruc- 
tion. Under this act there was carried into the state- 
ment of the public debt, as fractional currency lost or 
destroyed, $8,375,934. This amount has proved far be- 
low the actual loss or destruction. On the 31st of May, 
1890, after making this deduction, the amount still out- 
standing was $6,912,010.97. Of this amount it is safe 
to assume that seventy per cent., or $4,838,407, has been 
so far lost that it will not be presented for redemption. 
There is thus shown a clear profit to the United States 
on the issue of the fractional currency of more than 
$13,000,000, or more than twenty-six per cent, of the 
$50,000,000 to which the issue at any one time was lim- 
ited. 

"Why has this large proportion failed to be returned 
for redemption ? The answer is necessarily speculative. 
Collectors of stamps and other memorabilia of the epoch 
have absorbed some of it. But it has happened, in the 
experience of many, that each has become possessed of 
a fractional note so worn or mutilated that it was de- 
clined by the person to whom he offered it. The name 
of the person from whom he received it was forgotten, 
the amount was too small to pay for the trouble of 
sending it to Washington for redemption; he laid it 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 305 

aside in some corner of his pocket-book, where it re- 
mained to be further worn, until, tired of seeing it, he 
at length threw it away. Such has been my own expe- 
rience. It has been multiplied by that of others, possi- 
bly in instances numerous enough to account for the 
loss. 

If the public convenience were alone in question, there 
would be a reissue of the fractional currency. It was, 
and would still be, universally preferred to small silver 
coins. So long as it could be had in a cleanly condition, 
institutions were willing to incur expense to obtain it, 
especially for their lady customers. If the silver, instead 
of being coined, could be deposited in some out-of-the-way 
place in bars too heavy for asportation, and the cost of 
coinage applied to the cost of issuing fractional currency, 
the public would be better accommodated, and the silver 
bars could rest undisturbed until some convulsion should 
subvert all existing financial conditions. 

There was much complaint at the time, and the repu- 
tation of the secretary suffered, from his persistence in 
allowing the engraving, printing, and complete manu- 
facture of the white paper into the money of the frac- 
tional currency, ready for issue, to be done in the Bureau 
of Engraving and Printing without any oversight or su- 
pervision. The bureau itself had grown from nothing 
to very large proportions, as an annex or convenience to 
the office of the secretary. It was subject to none of the 
checks which the Treasury system imposed upon other 
bureaus, and an unauthorized issue of currency was quite 
possible, which might never be detected if it were not 
greater than the percentage of notes not returned for 
redemption. There was so much criticism of the secre- 
tary's action that he appointed a commission, which re- 
ported the danger, and earnestly recommended that the 
20 



306 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

bureau should be brought under the general Treasury 
regulations. But no change was made by Secretary 
Chase. His view of the matter was, that naked steal- 
ing could not be prevented by checks ; that confidence 
must be reposed in somebody; and it was safer to 
trust one man than a great number. One of the first 
acts of his successor, Mr. Fessenden, was to comply with 
the recommendations of the commission. Since that 
time checks have been added which now make the bu- 
reau safe, and render any fraud as nearly impossible as 
it can be under human management. 

Justice to all at any time concerned in the manage- 
ment of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing requires 
the statement that neither investigation, lapse of time, 
nor the subsequent redemption of its issues has produced 
any evidence whatever of fraud or wrong in that bureau 
down to the close of the war. On the contrary, the very 
large amount now outstanding indicates that there has 
been no unauthorized issue. Such, I am glad to know, 
is the opinion of experienced officers still remaining in 
the department. 

There is an act of Congress which prohibits the en- 
graving upon any of the Treasury issues of any portrait 
the original of which is living. It originated in the fact 
that the head of the Bureau of Engraving, in 1864, placed 
his own portrait upon the plate of the five-cent note. 
It was a presumptuous act, so fiercely denounced by the 
press that only a single issue from the plate was made. 
To prevent its repetition, the act was afterwards passed. 
This five-cent note is much sought after by collectors, 
and is much the scarcest of the Treasury issues during 
the war. 

The fight of legal tender had been won, and won on 
the ground stated by Thaddeus Stevens in the opening 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 307 

sentence of his speech : " This bill is a measure of neces- 
sity, not of choice." The act had been passed and ap- 
proved. We could issue $150,000,000 in currency at 
once, $60,000,000 would pay the demand notes, leaving 
$90,000,000 to pay our soldiers and carry on the war 
for some months to come. 

"We had also gained our first military success. Grant 
had captured forts Henry and Donelson, and was push- 
ing for Nashville. The clouds seemed to be breaking 
away, and the future to look more hopeful. 

I was therefore surprised when one afternoon, late in 
February, 1862, President Lincoln entered the register's 
room with as sad a look as I ever saw upon his careworn 
face. He dropped wearily into a seat he had previously 
chosen, and after a short silence exclaimed : 

" What have you to say about this legal-tender act ? 
Here is a committee of great financiers from the great 
cities who say that, by approving this act, I have wrecked 
the country. They know all about it or they are mis- 
taken." 

" You have done nothing of the kind," I said. " The 
time for argument has passed. Legal tender is inevita- 
ble. The gentlemen you mention have made it a neces- 
sity. The people would take our notes without the 
legal -tender clause. The banks and the copperheads 
will not. We cannot risk the country in their hands. 
You have followed your own good judgment in signing 
the act. The people will sustain you and Secretary Chase 
and Congress." 

" I do not see that I am exclusively responsible," he 
continued. " I say to these gentlemen, ' Go to Secretary 
Chase; he is managing the finances.' They persist, 
and have argued me almost blind. I am worse off than 
Saint Paul. He was in a strait betwixt two. I am in 



308 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

a strait betwixt twenty, and they are bankers and 
financiers." 

"You are right in signing the act," I said; "that 
point has passed debate." 

"Now that is just where my mind is troubled," he 
continued. " We owe a lot of money which we cannot 
pay ; we have got to run in debt still deeper. Our cred- 
itors think we are honest, and will pay in the future. 
They will take our notes, but they want small notes 
which they can use among themselves. So far I see no 
objection, but I do not like to say to a creditor you 
shall accept in payment of your debt something that 
was not money when it was contracted. That doesn't 
seem honest, and I do not believe the Constitution sanc- 
tions dishonesty." 

"No more do I," I replied. "I do not claim that 
legal tender can be upheld as an abstract right under 
the Constitution. But self-preservation is a right higher 
than the Constitution. "We are warranted in making 
any sacrifice of property or political right to save the 
Union. Gold and silver are beyond our reach ; our sol- 
diers must be paid and fed and clothed. We can issue 
Treasury notes, and circulate them as currency. It is 
right and honest that we should give them the quality 
of legal tender, provided we return to specie as soon as 
the necessity has passed. I have watched the debates 
in Congress. I have read the opinion of your attorney- 
general. There are those who hint and suggest that 
legal tender is provided for in the Constitution. I have 
read no speech in which that right is broadly asserted. 
I believe it safer to defend our position on the ground 
of necessity." 

"I understand that is Chase's ground, though he 
does not put it so strongly. We shall see. We will 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 3Q9 

wait to hear from the country districts, from the peo- 
ple." 

He again relapsed into silence, which I did not inter- 
rupt. Then he said, " When the old monks had tired 
themselves out in fighting the devil, did they not have 
places to which they retired for rest, which were called 
retreats ?" 

" They did," I answered ; " though I understand they 
were for spiritual rather than bodily recuperation." 

" I think of making this office one of my retreats" he 
said. "It is so quiet and restful here. Do you never 
get discouraged ?" 

" I shall be delighted to have you," I said, ignoring 
his question. " I only wish I could say of it, as Father 
Prout sang of the Groves of Blarney, 

" ' There's gravel- walks there for speculation, 
And conversation in sweet solitude.' " 

" Tell me more of that ballad," he exclaimed, cheer- 
ily. " I like its jingle. What an Irish conceit that is 
' conversation in sweet solitude.'' " 

" I fear I cannot. I must send you the book. I only 
remember, 

" ' There's statues gracing this noble place in, 

All heathen goddesses so fair, 
Bold Neptune, Plutarch, and Nicodaymus, 
A-standing naked in the open air.' " 

" I must have that book to-night," he said. " A good 
Irish bull is medicine for the blues." 

He left the office actually to the sound of his own 
musical laugh. He sent for the book a copy of Crof- 
ton Croker's " Popular Songs of Ireland." It is before 
me now ; priceless almost, when I remember that it once 
gave Abraham Lincoln some pleasure, some respite from 
his cares. 



310 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

I have several reasons for this prelude to a sketch of 
the greenback. It suggests what every American ought 
to know that it was resorted to in a very dark period 
of the war ; that it was accepted by the President on 
his faith in the financial policy of Secretary Chase, who 
advocated it not as a constitutional right per se, but as a 
right, like the proclamation of freedom to the slaves, 
founded upon military necessity. The story may possi- 
bly be regarded as trivial, but it tends to show with 
what intense earnestness the President bore his grave 
responsibilities, and that he seized upon an amusing 
story or volume because it diverted him for the mo- 
ment, and strengthened rather than weakened his ca- 
pacity for his graver duties. I think it tends also to 
illustrate the simple honesty of his mind. Had Mr. 
Lincoln been preserved to the republic, I do not believe 
that the question of legal tender would have been car- 
ried into the Supreme Court of the United States. The 
weight of his influence, never so powerful as on the day 
of his death, would have been thrown in favor of com- 
mencing the retirement of the legal-tender notes at the 
close of the war, and the return to a specie basis at the 
earliest date consistent with prudence and discretion. 

A "greenback" is a statement engraved and printed 
in the similitude of a bank-note that " the United States 
will pay to the bearer - - dollars." It bears on its face 
the engraved signatures of the register and treasurer 
of the United States ; a memorandum that it is' issued 
under the act of March 3, 1863 ; and that it is a legal 
tender for - - dollars. A fac-simile of the Treasury 
seal is printed upon it in red ink and by a separate im- 
pression. In an open space on the back is a statement 
that " this note is a legal tender at its face value for all 
debts, public or private, except duties on imports and 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 

interest on the public debt," with a note of the punish- 
ment denounced against its counterfeiting or alteration. 
Originally it bore a certificate of its right to be convert- 
ed into bonds of the United States, bearing interest at 
the rate of six per cent, per annum. This right was 
withdrawn by the act of March 3, 1863, as to all notes 
not presented for exchange before the 1st day of July in 
that year. 

The greenback, then, is the naked promise of the 
United States to pay the bearer a certain number of 
dollars, unsecured except by the national credit, without 
date or time of payment, which, for all ordinary purposes, 
is money, equal to the gold ?nd silver coins authorized by 
law. 

The alteration and counterfeiting of bank-notes, crimes 
almost unknown to the present generation, were common 
when the state-bank issues existed. The bank-note com- 
panies owned a patented green ink, which they claimed 
was a protection against photography, that it was diffi- 
cult to erase, the composition of which was a secret un- 
known to the criminal classes. Secretary Chase decided 
that the backs of the legal-tender notes should be print- 
ed with this patented green ink, giving to such notes 
literally green backs. The soldiers, quick to seize upon 
an appropriate name, on the first visit of the paymaster 
with these notes, gave them the name of " greenbacks." 
This name was universally adopted, and became as per- 
manent as the notes themselves. 

The authority for the issue of greenbacks was con- 
ferred by three acts of Congress, passed respectively 
on February 25 and July 11, 1862, and March 3, 1863. 
The first act authorized the issue of $150,000,000 ; but 
$60,000,000 of these were to be in lieu of the $60,000,000 
of demand notes authorized by the act of July 17", 1861. 



312 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

Each, of the other acts authorized the issue of $150,000,- 
000, making the whole amount authorized $450,000,000. 

The largest amount of greenbacks outstanding at one 
time was on the 3d of February, 1864, less than one year 
after the passage of the last act. The aggregate then 
reached was $449,479,222, or within a little more than 
half a million dollars of the full amount authorized. 

The act of June 30, 1865, restricted the amounts of 
greenbacks issued and to be issued to $400,000,000, and 
" such additional sum, not exceeding $50,000,000, as may 
be temporarily required for the redemption of temporary 
loan" (sic). The aggregate in circulation on the 31st of 
August, 1865, which may be taken as the close of the 
war, was $432,553,912, and on the 1st day of January, 
1866, $425,839,313. 

This large amount, however, was not an addition of so 
much money to the circulation of the country. Had it 
been, the inflation of prices and the activity of specula- 
tion would have been greater. The net increase of the 
circulating money at any time during the war would re- 
quire a computation more complicated than is suited to 
this sketch. It may be mentioned, however, that the 
circulation of the state banks, estimated in the loyal 
states at $150,000,000, had been withdrawn, and that 
issued to national banks was not large enough to take 
its place. The difference between these two amounts, 
with the whole amount of coin, had disappeared. The 
outstanding fractional currency must be added to the 
greenbacks, and the loss of state bank circulation and 
coin deducted, in order to ascertain the net increase. It 
affected values, no doubt, but probably not so much, as 
the value of greenbacks was diminished by depriving 
them of the right of exchange into interest - bearing 
bonds under the act of March, 1863. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 313 

At the close of the war there was a worthy successor 
of Secretary Chase at the head of the Treasury. Re- 
publics are fortunate which in periods of financial diffi- 
culty are able to secure the services of such men as Sal- 
mon P. Chase and Hugh McCulloch. "We had, by the 
bullet of the assassin, lost the potential personality of 
Abraham Lincoln. His secretary, McCulloch, in the 
true spirit of the legal-tender legislation, as soon as the 
necessity had passed, turned his energies towards a re- 
turn to a sound specie basis, and to the retirement of the 
greenbacks as the first and proper step towards that de- 
sirable goal. The national debt had then reached the 
gigantic amount of more than $2,800,000,000. To form 
an accurate judgment of the progress of which the re- 
public was capable when it was relieved of the incubus 
of slavery and permitted to expand under the influences 
of peace ; to preserve the national credit ; to provide for 
and pay the debt due to the soldiers and sailors who had 
crushed the rebellion ; and promptly, without delay, to 
lay out and enter upon the shortest safe road to specie 
payment, required not only a man able to comprehend 
the financial situation, but who had the boldness and 
courage to act upon his convictions. They have an ex- 
pression on the Pacific coast which conveys a world of 
meaning. They say of a man who has shown great abili- 
ties wherever he has been placed that he is a " scopy " 
man. Secretary McCulloch was evidently a "scopy" 
man. In his first report to Congress after the close of 
the war, on the 4th of December, 1865, he declared in 
plain terms that the legal-tender acts were war measures 
passed in a great emergency, that they should be regard- 
ed only as temporary, that they ought not to remain in 
force a day longer than would be necessary to enable the 
people to prepare for a return to the gold standard, and 



314 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

that the work of retiring the greenbacks which had been 
issued should be commenced without delay, and carefully 
and persistently continued until all were retired. Such 
words were powerful because of their sense and justice. 
By the act of April 12, 1866, Congress authorized the 
secretary to commence the withdrawal of the green- 
backs from circulation, to retire $10,000,000 within six 
months from the passage of the act, and thereafter to 
continue the process at the rate of $4,000,000 per month. 
The unanimity with which the secretary's policy was 
supported was shown by the vote in the House of Rep- 
resentatives on the passage of this act. There were 144 
votes in the affirmative, and only 6 in the opposition. 

Secretary McCulloch immediately instituted the proc- 
ess of retirement, and conducted it with quiet and em- 
inent discretion. By the end of the year 1866 he had 
reduced the greenbacks outstanding from $425,000,000 
to $380,000,000, and was proceeding quietly to continue 
the process at the rate of $4,000,000 per month. 

But suddenly there was a change in the political at- 
mosphere. A multitude of impecunious patriots, scat- 
tered over the North and West, discovered that they 
were being oppressed and afflicted beyond endurance by 
the contraction of the currency. They made the coun- 
try resound with their meanings of distress. The specu- 
lators of the " bull " party joined in the cry. Together 
they organized a political party called the Greenback 
Party. It attracted the same class of recruits that went 
down to David in the cave of Adullam. Every one that 
was in distress and every one that was in debt and every 
one that was discontented joined the party, and began 
to cry out with a loud voice against contraction, against 
the dreadful tyranny of Secretary McCulloch. Then it 
was that the republic wanted Abraham IJncoln. Had 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 315 

he been alive to support his secretary, there would have 
been no such weak yielding to noisy clamor as then oc- 
curred. That tower and stronghold no longer existed. 
The secretary continued his work until he had reduced 
the volume of the greenbacks to $356,000,000, when, on 
the 4th of February, 1868, Congress suspended further 
reduction. The amount in circulation has since been 
subjected to some variation, in 1875 rising as high as 
$382,000,000, and in 1879 being reduced below $347,000,- 
000. But it is accurate enough for all practical purposes 
to say that since the suspension in 1868, a term of more 
than twenty-two years of profound peace, the amount of 
legal-tender notes in circulation has been $356,000,000. 

If the republic shall again be involved in war there 
are many facts in the history of the currency issues here 
briefly described which will be useful to its financial 
minister. Secretary Chase had no experience of the 
past for his guide. The Continental currency of the 
Revolution was made a legal tender by state laws only. 
His judgment devised, Congress authorized, and the peo- 
ple loyally accepted the novelties in currency to which 
this chapter refers. In his financial policy he had the 
confidence and the support of President Lincoln. His 
policy was criticised ; in one or two respects it may have 
been erroneous. But he was a statesman and a great 
financier. He was stationed at the weakest point in the 
national defences, where defeat or retreat would have 
been ruin. He preserved the credit of the republic ; he 
was supported by a patriotic people ; and by his admin- 
istration of the Treasury he fairly earned the gratitude 
of posterity. 



XXXY. 

GRANT AND McCLELLAN. 

ONE morning, in the summer of 1862, there was a pro- 
cession in the streets of "Washington. It passed along 
Fifteenth Street in front of the Treasury, down the 
avenue, turned to the right, and, moving over the long 
bridge across the Potomac, disappeared among the hills 
of Yirginia. It was led by four bay horses ; they were 
fine animals, matched and spirited. Their harnesses and 
trappings were new and glossy, but plain, and furnished 
with dark trimmings. They were driven by a colored 
man in blue livery. On the seat with him was another 
man of color, wearing a similar livery. The horses were 
harnessed to a four-wheeled vehicle called a box- wagon ; 
i. e., a wagon the body of which was an oblong box 
about six feet wide and high, and eight or nine feet in 
length. The running-gear and box were painted a dark- 
brown color, and varnished so that they shone in the rays 
of the morning sun. Twenty-four other wagons fol- 
lowed, each a duplicate of the first. Each had its col- 
ored driver and attendant in uniform, and each was 
drawn by four matched, spirited bay horses. On the 
sides of each box, in large gold letters, was the inscription 
in three lines : 

"Baggage. 

Headquarters 

Army of the Potomac." 

These one hundred matched horses, fifty attendants, 
and twenty-five wagons constituted the train provided 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 

to transport the baggage of General George B. McClel- 
lan, Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Potomac, 
and his staff. It was said at the time that this army 
was perfect in its organization. This train for use at 
headquarters was the only part of it I, personally, saw. 
If the army was as well provided for as its general, this 
statement was incontrovertible. 

I remember another morning in Washington. It was 
in the early days of spring, and I was living at Willard's. 
The outlook was discouraging, and occurrences in the 
Treasury had been very depressing to friends of the 
Union. I had risen early, had left my room before 
dawn, and, seated by a window which overlooked the 
avenue, in the main office, I began to read the morning 
paper. The passengers from the Western trains had not 
yet arrived. The gas-lights were turned down, and that 
potentate, the hotel-clerk, who had not yet put on his 
daily air of omnipotence, was peacefully sleeping in his 
cushioned arm-chair. Two omnibuses were driven to 
the entrance on Fourteenth Street, with the railroad 
passengers from the West. The crowd made the usual 
rush for the register; the clerk condescended to open 
his eyes and assign them rooms on the upper floor (there 
was no elevator), as though he felt an acute pleasure in 
compelling them to make the ascent, and for a few mo- 
ments there was bustle and confusion. It was soon 
over ; the clerk resumed his arm-chair, closed his eyes, 
and his weary soul appeared to be at rest. 

There were two passengers who did not appear to be 
in such frantic haste. One was a sunburned man of 
middle age, who wore an army hat and a linen duster, 
below which, where a small section of his trousers were 
visible, I caught a glimpse of the narrow stripe of the 
army uniform. He held the younger traveller, a lad 



318 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

of ten years, by the hand, and carried a small leather 
bag. 

As they modestly approached the counter, the tem- 
porary lord of that part of creation, without deigning to 
rise from his chair, gave the register a practised whirl, 
so that the open page was presented to the elder travel- 
ler, observing as he did so, " I suppose you will want a 
room together." 

He named a room with a high number, gave the usual 
call "Front!" while the guest proceeded to write his 
name without making any observation. The clerk re- 
moved the pen from behind his ear ; gave another whirl 
to the register, and was about to enter the number of 
the room, when he was suddenly transfixed as with a 
bolt of lightning ! His imperial majesty became a ser- 
vile menial, thoroughly awake, and ready to grovel be- 
fore the stranger. He bowed, scraped, twisted, wriggled. 
" He begged a thousand pardons ; the traveller's arrival 
had been expected parlor A, on the shady side of the 
house, the very best apartment in the hotel, had been 
prepared for his reception it was on the first floor, only 
one flight of stairs ! Might he be allowed to relieve him 
of his travelling convenience?" and the lordly creature 
actually disappeared up the stairway, like Judas, carry- 
ing the bag. 

My curiosity was excited to ascertain who it was that 
had wrought such a sudden transformation. I walked 
to the counter, and there read the last entry on the reg- 
ister. It was " U. S. Grant and son, Galena, 111." 

It was the name of the General of the Western Army, 
who, after the capture of Vicksburg and the other mighty 
victories in the division of the Mississippi, had been called 
to the capital, to receive his commission of lieutenant- 
general, and to become commander - in - chief of all the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 319 

armies of the republic. He was on his first visit to 
Washington, for what purpose I did not then know ; but 
I have ever since been glad that I witnessed the simple 
and unostentatious manner in which the commander of 
two hundred thousand men indicated his arrival at the 
capital. 

I depart from my purpose of writing only conversa- 
tions with the President when I was present, to mention 
an interview between General Grant and the President, 
which preceded the advance of the Army of the Potomac 
in the spring of 1864. The account was given to me on 
the day, or day but one, after the conversation took place, 
by a senator of the United States, who was present at 
the interview, and whose veracity is beyond question. 

The senator was with the President when General 
Grant was announced. After a few observations upon 
general subjects, he said that as that was his last day in 
Washington for the time, he was unwilling to leave the 
city until he had thanked the President for his compli- 
ance with every wish he had expressed. He said the 
President had given him all that he had asked for, and 
consequently if the campaign should not prove a suc- 
cessful one, its failure could not be charged to any neg- 
lect or omission of President Lincoln's. He added that 
he was satisfied with the army, its discipline, and its 
officers, and that he did not believe a better army was 
ever organized. 

The President was pleased by the general's remarks, 
and cordially thanked him for his thoughtfulness in 
making his parting call. 

" I have thought much," he said, " about this army. 
I always do think much about every army, particularly 
when it is about to open a campaign. I look upon this 
campaign as of great importance, and hope it may prove 



320 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

decisive. I have, therefore, tried to think of all the 
wants of this army, and, as far as it is in my power, to 
cause them to be provided for. I can only act through 
others, with some of whom, it is charged, I have not 
much influence. It pleases me to know that in this in- 
stance my directions appear to have been carried out." 

" Now, there is one subject," continued the President, 
" which I ought to mention to you. Heretofore we have 
always had to provide a large amount of transportation 
on the river, in connection with the advance of this 
army enough in the event of defeat to transfer the 
whole army to the north bank of the Potomac. This 
time I have heard nothing said about transportation. 
Have you provided it ? and have you a suflicient num- 
ber of vessels ?" 

"I think so," answered the general. "We have a 
good many vessels more, I think, than will be needed 
if the army is compelled to cross the river. I do not 
intend any reflection upon the past 3 " he continued, 
" either upon the army or its generals, but I have an 
impression that the Army of the Potomac has never 
been fought up to its capacity until its military effect- 
iveness was exhausted. This time it will be ; and if it 
is defeated, its numbers will be so reduced that it will 
not need a large amount of transportation." 

The senator declared that it was quite impossible to 
describe the quiet firmness and resolute determination 
with which these sentences were uttered. The President 
congratulated the general upon his firmness of purpose, 
and said that it promised as great victories in the East 
as had been gained in the West. 

"The country should be cautioned," said General 
Grant, " against hoping for great successes. The loyal 
and the rebel armies, East and West, are made up of 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 321 

men of the same races. They have had about the same 
experience in war. Neither can justly claim any great 
superiority over the other in endurance, courage, or dis- 
cipline. One may be more skilfully handled than the 
other; accidents have sometimes won victories and 
caused defeats. But where two such armies meet on 
common ground, about equal in numbers, and equally 
well handled, I do not know why any better result 
should be expected from one than from the other. In 
the coming campaign, in one respect, the rebels have the 
advantage. We shall be in their territory, with which 
they are perfectly familiar, and we shall be upon strange 
ground. Their arms are equal to ours, they claim su- 
perior discipline and greater endurance. "While I hope 
and expect to defeat them, I do not know why this war 
should not end as wars generally do, by the exhaustion 
of the strength and resources of the weaker party." 

I cannot tell how this conversation may impress 
others. At the time, it gave me entirely new views of 
the character of General Grant, and greater confidence 
in his ability as a military leader. Its influence was the 
same upon the limited circle to which it was communi- 
cated after its occurrence. Had he not touched the very 
point and centre of the subject ? Was it not true that 
Lee and the rebels would fight, as Montcalm and the 
French did, until the resources of the country were com- 
pletely exhausted ? If so, it was almost idle to hope for 
a great and conclusive victory. The chances of such a 
result were not as good as they were at Gettysburg and 
Antietam, where the rebel army was in peril of destruc- 
tion until it had reached the south bank of the Potomac. 
In this campaign General Lee's army would not be ex- 
posed to any such risk or danger. When, a few days 
later, battle was joined in the Wilderness, and so many 



322 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

of the vessels on the river began to be employed in 
transporting the wounded to Washington ; when for a 
week there were no despatches from General Grant ; 
when only one fact seemed assured that instead of re- 
tiring, as it always had before, the army was all the 
time advancing, it was a great comfort to loyal men 
to recall this conversation, and to feel that General 
Grant had measured the work in advance, and was en- 
gaged in its performance with the resolute purpose in- 
dicated by the interview. His despatch to the Secretary 
of War, of the llth of May, in the light of that conver- 
sation, seemed to be the fulfilment of prophecy "We 
have now ended the sixth day of very heavy fighting. 
The result to this time is much in our favor. Our losses 
have been heavy as well as those of the enemy. I think 
the loss of the enemy must be greater. ... I propose 
to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer." 



XXXVI. 

THE CONFEDERATES EXCHANGE A PARTY OF THEIR PRISON- 
ERS OF WAR. 

I AM about to describe a visit to a hospital, which 
many will say might better have been omitted. All who 
make any public reference to such scenes are charged 
with intensifying and perpetuating sectional differences 
which ought to have ended with the war, and which 
must be buried out of memory if we are to have a coun- 
try thoroughly reunited. But does not the truth of his- 
tory require that some account be preserved of those 
melancholy events which are facts as essential to a cor- 
rect record of the war as its less repulsive features I 

On the evening of the 3d of May, 1864, the President 
said to me, " Can you leave your office for to-morrow, and 
go over to Annapolis?" 

" Certainly," I replied, " with the permission of Secre- 
tary Chase." 

"I will obtain that permission," said the President, 
" or, if there is any difficulty, I will inform you so that 
you may return immediately. A party of about four 
hundred officers and men out of rebel prisons arrived 
there yesterday. Their condition will be investigated 
by Congress ; but that will take time. An intelligent 
lady, whom you know, has given me such an account of 
their sad state that I should like to know the truth at 
once from one who will neither exaggerate nor suppress 
any of the facts. Will you go and see them and bring 
me back your report ?" 



324 RECOLLECTIONS OP PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

I promised to do so. He seemed unwilling to state 
what had been the report of the lady he had mentioned, 
for he appeared to think that her sympathies might 
have influenced her judgment. Still, he seemed much 
disturbed, and some expressions fell from him which in- 
dicated that his own sympathies had been thoroughly 
aroused. I remarked that this lady had a clear head, 
sound judgment, and much experience in the hospitals, 
and that it was very improbable that she should be de- 
ceived or overcome by any sentiment. " I know it," he 
said. " I know of few men who are more reliable. Yet she 
was so completely overwhelmed that she had great diffi- 
culty in telling her story. There must be some mistake 
about it ! It is too horrible ! too horrible ! Yet Stanton 
had the same story, and believes every word of it." 

I went to Annapolis that evening, and saw in the hos- 
pitals a memorable spectacle of all that remained of a party 
of over three hundred enlisted men. They were men no 
longer they were skeletons ! With few exceptions they 
were Americans, representing almost every one of the 
loyal states. Their minds had gone with their strength. 
It was almost impossible to get an intelligent answer to 
a question from one of them. I asked one his name. 
With a vacant, wandering expression in his eyes he an- 
swered, "I guess it is Mason!" The rags in which 
they had arrived three days before had been taken from 
their bodies and burned. The hair had been shaved 
from their heads, and kind hands were washing the 
grime from the spaces between their festering sores. 
Many had only stumps where their fingers and toes had 
been frozen off. All that could converse told the same 
story. They had been robbed of their blankets, clothes, 
and money, and then left on Belle Isle in the winter 
storms to starve and die. Their destruction was well- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 325 

nigh completed. Eight died on the voyage. The sur- 
geons were of opinion that at least thirty-three per cent, 
of them had no chance of life, and that the recovery of 
others would be slow and painful. 

I will not distress myself nor the reader by a further 
description. Those who doubt the facts may consult Re- 
port 67 of the first session of the Thirty -eighth Congress. 
It is the report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct 
of the War, written by Mr. Gooch, of Massachusetts, 
a clear-headed, conservative man. Portraits of the pa- 
tients, the testimony given by them, and scores of other 
reliable witnesses, seem to point to the correctness of 
the conclusion drawn by that committee, that exposure 
and starvation, and the inhuman practices so indicated, 
" were the result of a determination by the rebel author- 
ities to reduce our soldiers in their power to such a 
condition that those who survive shall never recover 
so as to be able to render any effectual service in the 
field." 

The horrors of Andersonville and Salisbury came 
later. They were farther away, and the proof is not so 
overwhelming. The proportion chargeable to Wirz and 
"Winder, and that for which the Confederate authorities 
were responsible, may not in this world be known. The 
conduct of these wretches, repeatedly denounced to their 
superiors by the more humane officers of the Confeder- 
acy, upon official examination, is probably not to be 
charged to any direct orders from the rebel authorities. 
In the case of the poor victims at Annapolis, there is 
less excuse. They were robbed and frozen and starved 
in the city of Richmond, in the capital of the Confed- 
eracy, under the very windows of the Executive Man- 
sion, under the eye of Jefferson Davis and the rebel 
congress. Scarcity of food, fuel, and clothing never ex- 



326 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

isted in Richmond ; they were abundant at the collapse 
of the Confederacy almost a year later. It is difficult to 
find excuse or apology for the treatment of the prison- 
ers at Belle Isle, and I doubt if such will ever be at- 
tempted. 

The evidence need not be strained in order to extend 
the responsibility for these atrocities to others than the 
notoriously guilty. His admirers claim that no part of 
it rests upon General Lee, and as we have no record that 
any word or remonstrance or objection ever came from 
him, it is to be fervently hoped that he was ignorant of 
the whole damning story. 

It was a Boston woman of wealth and culture who 
went with me from cot to cot during the visit of that 
evening. In the preceding forty-eight hours every com- 
fort which her wealth and energy could procure had been 
provided for these poor sufferers with a bountiful hand. 
Even their dull minds seemed to recognize in her the 
instrument of a kind Providence, and I could not de- 
termine whether their tears of gratitude or hers of pity 
were the more abundant. I did not see them at their 
worst, but even at the time of my visit the scene trans- 
cended description. It sickened me ; and the recollec- 
tion of its sad and tragic features served to keep sleep 
from my eyes during the greater part of the ensuing 
night. 

At early dawn I hurried back to the hospital to con- 
vince myself that my imagination had exaggerated the 
horrors of my previous visit. But no such result ensued. 
Attendants were removing those who during the night 
watches had forgotten their pains and should remember 
their miseries no more. Death had harvested seventeen 
victims. 

I returned to Washington by the earliest train. It 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 327 

was scarcely seven o'clock when I reached the Executive 
Mansion. I was not kept waiting. 

" Well 2" said the President, as he entered the well- 
known room, with a world of interrogation in his face. 

"Mr. President," I responded, "all the way from 
Annapolis I have been studying the formula for an an- 
swer to your question. It is useless ! You would like to 
know what I have seen ? I cannot tell you. Imagine, 
if you can, a body of stalwart, strong men, such as you 
may see in any of our camps, robbed of their money, 
blankets, overcoats, boots and clothing, covered with 
rags, driven like foxes into holes on an island, exposed 
there to frost and cold until their frozen extremities 
drop from their bleeding stumps ; fed upon husks, such 
as the swine in the parable would have rejected, until, 
by exhaustion, their manhood is crushed out, their 
minds destroyed, and their bodies, foul with filth and 
disease, are brought to the very borders of the grave, 
which will close upon more than half of them, and you 
may get some faint conception of what may be seen at 
Annapolis. But it will be very faint. The picture can- 
not be comprehended even when it is seen !" 

" Can such things be possible ?" he exclaimed, " and 
you are the fourth who has given me the same account ! 
I cannot believe it ! There must be some explanation 
for it. The Kichmond people are Americans of the 
same race as ourselves. It is incredible !" 

" No, no !" I exclaimed, " I saw these poor unfortu- 
nates last evening. I went again this morning to find 
something which would relieve the horror of the first 
impression. I did not find it. I have conversed with 
men who know that they are dying, and that they have 
been brought to the very edge of their open graves by 
neglect. They all tell the same story, and but one con- 



328 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

elusion is possible. A frightful weight of responsibility 
and guilt rests upon the authorities at Richmond for 
these crimes against humanity !" 

"I feel all your sympathy," he said; "nothing has 
occurred in the war which causes me to suffer like this. 
I know it seems impossible to account for the treatment of 
these poor fellows, except on the theory that somebody 
is guilty. But the world will be slow to believe that the 
Confederate authorities intend to destroy their prisoners 
by starvation. We should be slow to believe it our- 
selves. It must be that they have some claim of excuse ! 
Why, the Indians torture their prisoners, but I never 
heard that they froze them or starved them !" 

"It seems to me," I said, "that a parallel to these 
cruelties would be hard to find even in the conduct of 
the Spaniards towards the Indians of Central and South 
America, which Las Casas so graphically sets before us." 

" And yet we may not know all the facts, the whole 
inside history. They may have excuses of which we 
know nothing," said the President. 

" Make the case your own," I persisted. " Washing- 
ton is larger than Richmond ; your duties are quite as 
absorbing as those of Mr. Jefferson Davis. Could Con- 
federate prisoners of war be dying by hundreds of ex- 
posure and starvation on an island in the Potomac, be- 
tween this city and Alexandria, and you not know it ? 
Why, the newsboys in the streets would publish it, and 
the authorities could not remain ignorant of it if they 
were deaf and dumb." 

" Well, well !" he said, " you have the best of the ar- 
gument, I admit. But do me a favor. Retain your opin- 
ions, if you must, but say nothing about them at present, 
until we are compelled to make the charge, until there is no 
alternative, and the world is forced to think as we do." 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 329 

" I will do as you request," I responded, " but we can- 
not control our judgments. It is plain where the re- 
sponsibility of these enormities should rest, and condem- 
nation of those who permitted them must follow from 
any right-minded and humane person." 

The President's face wore that sad expression which 
I have so often referred to, as he said, " Let us hope for 
the best ! We shall have enough to answer for if we 
survive this war. Let us hope, at least, that the crime 
of murdering prisoners by exposure and starvation may 
not be fastened on any of our people." 



XXXVII. 

PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S STORY OF DANIEL WEBSTER. 

THE story of Daniel "Webster's school-days, as related 
by Mr. Lincoln, was imperfectly given by Mr. B. F. 
Carpenter, the artist, in his anecdotes and reminiscences 
appended to Eaymond's " Life and Public Services of 
Abraham Lincoln," published soon after his assassina- 
tion. The value of the story as an interesting illustra- 
tion of certain qualities in the President's character 
depends, in a great degree, upon the circumstances under 
which it was told. These are in part omitted, and in 
part misdescribed, in the published account. The fol- 
lowing is a correct version, as I can affirm from personal 
knowledge : 

The colored people, from the hour of his inauguration, 
regarded Mr. Lincoln as the promised saviour of their 
race. Their faith in his wisdom and power was un- 
bounded. It was most fully expressed in their churches 
and religious services by a singular combination of rev- 
erence and trust. They had no doubt whatever of his 
ability to set them free, and that he would do so when- 
ever it was to their advantage that the blessing of free- 
dom should be bestowed. They were content to wait 
until that time arrived. Their duty, as impressed by 
their ministers, was to prepare themselves for the great 
impending change in their condition, by learning to read 
and write, and by leading good and honest lives. When- 
ever Mr. Lincoln's name was mentioned, or when they 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 331 

saw him or heard him speak, they exhibited much the 
same reverence as we may imagine was shown by sin- 
cere believers at the sight of the Saviour of men. 

In May, 1862, there was a Sunday-school celebration 
of the colored children of Washington. The bright 
contrasts of striking colors of which the race is so fond, 
with their genius for display, enabled the parents to 
dress and arrange their children in a procession of a 
memorable character at a small expense. The young, 
black, merry faces, the simple dresses of white with a 
red shawl or sash worn over them with native grace, the 
girls carrying bouquets of crimson roses, and the boys 
waving colored banners, arranged in a procession, with 
their teachers and parents walking solemnly by their side, 
all occupied in a vain effort to suppress their enthusiasm, 
was a pleasant picture to behold. The procession was 
a long one, and must have comprised most of the colored 
children in the city. It was the season of flowers, and 
the large bunches carried by the girls lent an added 
brightness to the scene. 

The route of the procession brought it in front of the 
Executive Mansion about ten o'clock on a bright May 
morning. President Lincoln stood at one of the win- 
dows on the second floor, and the procession passed 
within a few yards, so that every child in it had a full 
view of his person. At the head of the column were 
forty or fifty colored ministers and teachers, who set an 
excellent example of sober dignity to their young fol- 
lowers. Their injunctions of silence to the children 
were emphatic and often repeated. 

But it would have been no more difficult to suppress 
so many explosions of powder with the match applied 
than to quell the involuntary outburst of enthusiasm 
which came from every child in that long procession as 



332 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

he or she recognized the well-known face and figure of 
Abraham Lincoln. It would be useless to attempt to 
repeat their exclamations. From the boys there were 
shouts of enthusiastic delight ; from the girls a more 
suppressed form of reverential wonder. Boys and girls 
alike wanted the fact to be known that they had seen 
the President. " I seen him !" " I seen him my own 
self!" " Dat's Massa Linkum !" "Look at him! Look 
at him !" " Oh, don't he look just the same as the Lord !" 
Every boy would swing his flag, and shout his hurrahs 
as he came near the President, and each was frantic with 
]oy when, as often happened, he appeared to notice him. 
The girls, not so demonstrative, clasped their hands and 
blessed " Massa Linkum " in every imaginable form of 
expression. Scores of them tossed their bunches of roses 
into the Mansion, so that the floor was carpeted with 
them. 

For a full hour the President stood at the window, 
giving the last child as good an opportunity to see him 
as the first. There is not much of the pathetic in the 
account, but there was something very touching in this 
universal reverence for Abraham Lincoln. It did not 
fail to affect every spectator, the President, apparently, 
most of all. His sad, melancholy face could not have 
been more expressive if he had felt a sense of personal 
responsibility for every human being in that numerous 
crowd. The scene was so touching that there were some 
eyes which were not entirely dry, and I thought, at the 
time, that the President's were among the number. 

When the procession had passed, and the last of the 
innumerable " God bless him's" had died away, without 
breaking the silence which he had maintained for an 
hour, Mr. Lincoln turned from the window and walked 
slowly back towards the well-known little room in which 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 333 

he had received so many visitors, followed by those who 
had with him witnessed the exhibition. When the 
President entered the room, his face wore that look of 
melancholy so habitual to it ; so different from that of 
any other human being. 

Suddenly he stopped and turned about. In an instant 
the whole aspect of the man had changed ; the melan- 
choly look had disappeared, and his sad eyes sparkled 
with humor. Without addressing any one in particular, 
he exclaimed : 

" Did you ever hear the story of Daniel Webster and 
the school-master?" 

No one answered. " Well," he said, " this is the 
story: Daniel was a very careless, some called him a 
dirty boy. His teacher had many times reproved him 
for not washing his hands. He had coaxed and scolded 
him, but it was useless ; Daniel would come to school 
with dirty hands. Out of all patience with him, one 
day he called Daniel to his desk, made him hold up his 
hands in the presence of the whole school, and solemnly 
warned him that if he ever came to school again with 
his hands in that condition he would give him a fer- 
ruling which he would long remember. 

" Daniel promised better behavior, and for two or three 
days there was great improvement in his appearance. 
His hands looked as if they were washed daily. But 
the reformation was not permanent. In a few days his 
hands were as dirty as ever. The teacher's sharp eyes 
detected them, and, as soon as school had opened for 
the day, with a stern voice he said, ' Daniel, come 
here !' the guilty culprit knew what was coming. His 
palms began to tingle in anticipation. He stealthily 
brought the palm of his right hand into contact with 
his tongue, and, as he walked slowly towards the mas- 



334 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ter's desk, rubbed the same upon his pantaloons, in the 
effort to remove some of the dirt. ( Hold out your hand, 
sir !' said the master. Daniel extended his right hand 
palm upward. ' Do you call that a clean hand ?' de- 
manded the teacher. ' Not very, sir,' modestly replied 
the offender. ' I should think not very /' said the 
master. ' I promised you a f erruling ; but if you will 
show a dirtier hand in this school-room, I will let you 
off for this time.' ' There it is, sir !' exclaimed Daniel, 
quickly extending his left hand, which had not under- 
gone the summary cleansing of the right." 

Mr. Lincoln seldom laughed at his own stories, but 
usually left his auditors, for whose benefit they were 
told, to enjoy them. But the quickness with which the 
school-boy had seized upon the weak point in the mas- 
ter's offer seemed to touch his keen sense of humor, and 
at the conclusion of the story he laughed as heartily as 
any one present. The story was a good one, but what 
there had been in the procession just witnessed to bring 
it to the President's mind was difficult to discover. 



XXXYIII. 

PRESIDENT LINCOLN THE UNAPPRECIATED FRIEND OF THE 
SOUTH. HIS OFFER OF COMPENSATED EMANCIPATION. HE 
MEETS A VERMONT CONTRACTOR. THEIR IMPRESSIONS OF 
EACH OTHER. 

To those who were in almost daily intercourse with 
President Lincoln, who knew his inmost thoughts, it was 
surprising that the slaveholders could not see that he 
wanted to be their friend. When the war was fairly be- 
gun, I believe he gave up all thought that slavery could be 
saved. I know that he began to formulate plans to se- 
cure to the slaveholders payment for their slaves, and if 
the Border states had come to his assistance there was a 
time when they could have secured it. As early as Sep- 
tember, 1861, 1 heard him discuss the subject frequently. 
He spoke of the poverty and distress which emancipation 
would bring upon the slaveholders. He hoped that Con- 
gress would propose some plan of co-operation with the 
Border states in abolishing slavery. Immediately after 
our first military successes in the winter of 1862, and 
early in March, he sent a special message to Congress, 
proposing a joint resolution offering such co-operation, 
and that Congress should offer at least partial payment. 
In July he transmitted a bill to Congress, which provided 
that bonds of the United States at a fixed rate per head, 
according to the census of 1860, should be issued to any 
state that abolished slavery. 

This liberal proposal received considerable support at 
the North. Mr. Greely advocated it in the Tribune, and 



336 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

the leading Republican papers followed his lead. Mr. 
Lincoln personally invited his friends to interest them- 
selves in the subject. 

But the proposition met with no support in the Border 
states, where it ought to have been received with enthu- 
siasm, and in the seceded states it was ridiculed. The 
London Times scoffed at it, and in all England only the 
Daily News gave it a cold support. Mr. Lincoln quite 
took its failure to heart, and declared that it still re- 
mained true that, whom the gods wished to destroy they 
first made mad. He became discouraged almost to the 
point of abandoning the project, when a suggestion was 
made which attracted some attention, and promised to 
acquire some strength in the Border states. The propo- 
sition was not only to pay for the slaves, but to remove 
them bodily to some territory which should be wholly 
given up to them, and where they should try the experi- 
ment of self-government. 

Unfortunately the source of this suggestion gave it little 
political strength. The fact that Mr. Lincoln consented 
to entertain and consider it at all showed how far he 
was willing to go for the protection of the slave owners, 
and how unwilling he was to give up all hope of success. 
The proposition seemed to his friends absurd and impos- 
sible. If it were not, it was hopeless ; for no Northern 
state would consent to pay for the slave property, incur 
the expense of removing it, and also become responsible 
for its future management. The author of the scheme 
was ex-Senator Pomeroy, and its promoters were specu- 
lators rather than statesmen. 

It was very close to the new year of 1863 that the 
suggestion was tentatively given to the newspapers, in 
the form of a rumor that parties were ready to under- 
take the removal of the slaves to "Western Texas. It at- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 337 

tracted but little attention, and it became evident that 
some other impulse must be given to it if it was to suc- 
ceed. 

During one of his welcome visits to my office, the 
President appeared to be buried in thought over some 
subject of great interest. After long reflection he ab- 
ruptly exclaimed that he wanted to ask me a ques- 
tion. 

" Do you know any energetic contractor ?" he inquired. 
" One who would be willing to take a large contract, 
attended with some risk ?" 

" I know New England contractors," I replied, " who 
would not be frightened by the magnitude or risk of any 
contract. The element of prospective profit is the only 
one which would interest them. If there was a fair 
prospect of profit, they would not hesitate to contract 
to suppress the rebellion within ninety days !" 

" There will be profit and reputation in the contract I 
may propose," he said. " It is to remove the whole col- 
ored race of the slave states into Texas. If you have 
any acquaintance who would take that contract, I would 
like to see him." 

"I know a man who would take that contract and 
perform it. I would be willing to put him into commu- 
nication with you, so that you might form your own 
opinion about him. He is so connected with my family 
that I would not endorse him further than to say that 
he has energy enough to remove a nation." 

By the President's direction I requested John Brad- 
ley, a well-known Yermonter, then temporarily in New 
York, to come to Washington. He was at my office 
when the Treasury opened, the morning after I sent the 
telegram. I declined to give him any hint of the pur- 
pose of his invitation, but took him directly to the Pres- 
22 



338 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ident. When I presented him, I said : " Here, Mr. Pres- 
ident, is the contractor whom I named to you yester- 
day. Please understand that if I endorse him it must 
be ' without recourse.' You must take him upon your 
own judgment, if at all. His plans are too comprehen- 
sive for me to make good if he should fail." 

I left them together. Two hours later Mr. Bradley 
returned to the Register's Office, overflowing with admi- 
ration for the President and enthusiasm for his proposed 
work. "The proposition is," he said, "to remove the whole 
colored race into Texas, there to establish a republic of 
their own. The subject has political bearings, of which 
I am no judge, and upon which the President has not 
yet made up his mind. But I have shown him that it is 
practicable. I will undertake to remove them all within 
a year." 

" What do you think of the President ?" I asked. 

" I think he is the greatest man of the century !" he 
answered. " He has the intellect of Webster and the 
hard common-sense of Silas Wright. I can understand 
now his power over other men. He is thoroughly honest 
and unselfish. He has sound judgment; he can com- 
mand all my resources for anything he wishes to do. He 
is greater than Washington, and the world will eventu- 
ally so decide." 

" But is not this project for the deportation of the ne- 
groes rather impracticable ? Is it not an act of rashness 
to favor it ?" 

" He has not decided to favor it. It is the project of 
Senator Pomeroy, of Kansas, and a few others. The 
President has it under examination. I do not under- 
stand the political questions involved in it, and I think it 
is very doubtful whether President Lincoln approves it. 
But if he does, it will be a success, and I shall do all in 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 339 

my power to favor it. Mr. Lincoln is great, because he 
is honest. The people must follow such a leader ! They 
cannot do otherwise. I cannot do otherwise. If he de- 
cides upon this wholesale transfer of the colored race, 
they will be in Texas within a year. I would like to take 
the contract for their removal. All the assistance I want 
is the approval of President Lincoln." 

"What is your opinion of Mr. Bradley?" I asked the 
President at my next opportunity. 

" He is equal to any enterprise, even the removal of a 
race from one continent to another," the President an- 
swered. " He poured a flood of information over the 
entire subject. He had built a railroad through the state 
of Texas ; he knew all about the soil, the climate, all the 
conditions which control the problem. He was a verita- 
ble mine of information. He was even ready to take the 
contract for the deportation of the negroes at so much a 
head. But he also had powerful reasons against the 
project. If it is undertaken, he will have a hand in it. 
Have you many such men in Vermont? "Why would 
they not make great soldiers ? A dozen such men com- 
bined ought to control the resources of the state." 

"There is one defect in Mr. Bradley's character," I 
said. " He will carry any enterprise through its diffi- 
culties, but when these are overcome, the project ceases 
to have any attraction for him." 

" I, think I understand you. As they say in the hay- 
field, he requires a good man to 'rake after him.' I 
asked him if he had had any military experience. He 
said that he had not, but that he could learn military 
science in two months. On my word, I believe he could." 

"If such men were in command, there would be a 
movement at the front," he continued. " I can find men 
enough who can rake after ; but the men with long arms 



340 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

and broad shoulders, who swing a scythe in long sweeps, 
cutting a smooth swath ten feet wide, are much more 
difficult to find." 

The project for the removal of the colored race was 
soon after abandoned. I doubt whether it was ever 
seriously entertained by the President. The plan was 
favorably considered by others, and his rejection of it 
serves to illustrate the practical judgment by which the 
President decided every question presented for his con- 
sideration. 



XXXIX. 

THE PROFESSIONAL DETECTIVE. HIS EMPLOYMENT BY THE 
UNITED STATES AND ITS INFLUENCE UPON THE PEOPLE. 

WAR is a crime against humanity. Criminals who 
transgress laws made by man sometimes escape the 
penalty; those who break the laws ordained of God, 
never. Whether nation or individual, their punishment 
is inevitable. 

After the War of the Rebellion was over, and the great 
wrong of slavery had been expiated in blood, there were 
those who hoped that the nation might be restored to 
the soundness of ante-bellum days, and escape the de- 
moralizing results which have followed all wars from 
that one waged in heaven by the first rebel against his 
omnipotent Master. It was a thrice -vain hope. We 
who lived before the war are able to compare the tone 
of legislation, the purity of the judiciary, the integrity 
of public officers, and the conscience which regulated 
the intercourse of men in those peaceful days, with the 
insane speculations, the monopolies, the thirst for office 
and the greed of riches of the present day, and require 
no other proofs of the extent of the national demoraliza- 
tion. It is not an agreeable picture. More closely than 
anything in history, it tends toward the condition of 
the empire when Rome, by her conquests, had accumu- 
lated, in the Eternal City, the corruptions as well as the 
riches of the world. 

Much of this degradation of the public morals was 
the inevitable result of war. It arose from causes prob- 



342 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ably beyond human control, under the wisest of govern- 
ments. Upon these causes it is useless to enter. But 
there were others which might have been prevented or 
suppressed. Their evils were anticipated and discussed ; 
there was opportunity to employ or reject them. I will 
give a short sketch of one of them, and some of the in- 
cidents of its operation. 

Secretary Chase was opposed upon principle to any 
system of direct taxation which required a force of 
revenue officers for its collection. His chief objection 
was, that it would create an inquisition into the private 
affairs of the people to which they were unused, and 
which could not fail to become disagreeable and offen- 
sive. To the cases cited of Great Britain and other 
powers, where a large revenue was collected under such 
a system, he replied that the revenue was obtained from 
but few articles or sources ; that this kind of taxation 
had been so long in use that its evils had been re- 
formed; the people had become accustomed to it and 
its burdens were light. Whereas here, the whole sub- 
ject was novel, and the tax would necessarily be laid 
upon a much larger number of articles. 

But Secretary Chase had constantly before him one 
controlling fact, to which the general public gave but 
little attention. The Treasury was the weakest point 
in the national defences and the constant source of im- 
pending peril. The national credit was as necessary to 
a restoration of the Union as oxygen to life. If that 
became bankrupt, a divided union and a confederacy 
founded upon negro slavery were as inevitable as death. 

The battle of Bull Run, however, settled several open 
questions. One of them was, that every practicable 
means of supplying the Treasury with money must be 
employed without longer delay. Customs duties must 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 34.3 

be increased to an extent which made illicit importa- 
tions immensely profitable, and all manufactured prod- 
ucts, the professions, and the incomes of the people must 
be taxed to an extent before uncontemplated. An in- 
ternal revenue system, reaching into every village and 
hamlet of the loyal states, had become an immediate 
necessity. 

The secretary invited suggestions from a number of 
gentlemen for the structure of the Internal Revenue 
Statutes. These suggestions arranged themselves in two 
classes. One class proceeded upon the assumption that 
men were naturally dishonest, and that they would re- 
gard a fraud upon the United States as an evidence of 
shrewdness rather than a crime, as a credit rather than 
a stigma. The other insisted that the nation was now 
experiencing a grand and most creditable development 
of patriotism, which led it to regard the payment of 
necessary taxes as a duty, and which would no more 
tolerate frauds upon the Treasury than it would any 
other form of treason. 

The first of these classes consequently proposed an in- 
ternal revenue system which should enforce the collec- 
tion of taxes by heavy fines, penalties, and forfeitures, 
which should be divided with informers and spies. As 
these informers would require instruction in their labors, 
in order to become experts, they proposed a bureau of 
detectives in the Treasury, presided over by a chief, with 
such a number of subordinates as should be found neces- 
sary, all to be salaried officers of the United States. 

The general plan of the second class proposed con- 
siderable rewards for prompt returns and payments, in 
deductions from the amount of the tax. Their prin- 
cipal reliance, however, was upon the honesty of a pa- 
triotic people, who, if properly encouraged by the Treas- 



344 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ury, would constitute a great army of unpaid agents for 
the collection of the taxes, besides paying their own, 
since no man who bore his own share of the burdens of 
war would permit his neighbor to escape from the same 
burdens by fraud or dishonesty. This plan wholly dis- 
pensed with detectives and paid informers. 

I took a somewhat active part in the discussion of the 
subject, and, at the request of the secretary, prepared a 
written argument, in which it was claimed that the em- 
ployment of an army of detectives was inconsistent with 
the dignity of the government, and would exert a cor- 
rupting influence upon the people. I also stated that in 
my experience as a lawyer I could not remember that I 
had ever met with a professional detective who could be 
trusted ; that the reason was probably to be found in 
the fact that a man who used deception and falsehood 
as the tools of his trade became incapable of distinguish- 
ing them from truth, so that he would use either, as at 
the moment seemed most expedient. Such a man's mind 
was not likely to be controlled by conscience, nor were 
perfect candor and sincerity towards an employer to be 
expected from one whose ordinary line of action in the 
pursuit of a criminal must necessarily involve a constant 
exercise of the opposite qualities. It was also stated that 
the people, knowing that such agents were employed by 
the Treasury, would infer that honesty and integrity 
were no longer appreciated, and would lose all interest 
in the honest execution of the laws, concluding that, as 
they got no credit for fair payment of their taxes, they 
might just as well evade them whenever they could. 
The results would necessarily be a general demoraliza- 
tion of the public service and a thorough corruption of 
the public mind. 

The advice of the class first mentioned finally pre- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 345 

vailed. After long hesitation the secretary decided upon 
the employment of detectives, and the first internal rev- 
enue act of 1862 was framed upon the theory that the 
taxpayers were the natural enemies of the government, 
who would avail themselves of every opportunity to de- 
fraud it, and evade the payment of their taxes. The 
laws for the collection of duties upon imports were 
amended so as to conform to the same theory. Heavy 
penalties were imposed by the internal revenue and the 
tariff laws, which were to be enforced by the official 
power of the United States, but the penalties, when col- 
lected, were to be divided between the government and 
the informers. Statutes were enacted which gave to 
irresponsible detectives powers of visitation and inquisi- 
tion into the business of the citizen which were intolera- 
ble enough to have provoked a revolution if the country 
had not been already involved in war. 

The Detective Bureau was established as one of the 
regular bureaus, not under the control of the commis- 
sioner of internal revenue, or the commissioner of the 
customs, as it should have been, if permitted to exist, 
but as an annex to the office of the secretary. One L. 
C. Baker, who had acquired some notoriety as a detec- 
tive, was appointed its chief. By some means, never 
clearly understood, his jurisdiction was extended to the 
army, and he exercised his authority in all the depart- 
ments and throughout the United States. 

Baker wore the uniform, and probably had authority 
to assume the rank, of a colonel in the army. He took 
into his service, from all parts of the country, men who 
claimed to have any aptitude for detective work, with- 
out recommendation, investigation, or any inquiry, be- 
yond his own inspection, which he claimed immediately 
disclosed to him the character and abilities of the ap- 



346 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

plicant. How large his regiment ultimately grew is 
uncertain, but at one time he asserted that it exceeded 
two thousand men. 

With this force at his command, protected against 
interference from the judicial authorities, Baker became 
a law unto himself. He instituted a veritable Keign of 
Terror. He dealt with every accused person in the 
same manner; with a reputable citizen as with a de- 
serter or petty thief. He did not require the formality 
of a written charge ; it was quite sufficient for any per- 
son to suggest to Baker that a citizen might be doing 
something that was against law. He was immediately 
arrested, handcuffed, and brought to Baker's office, at 
that time in the basement of the Treasury. There he 
was subjected to a brow-beating examination, in which 
Baker was said to rival in impudence some heads of 
the criminal bar. This examination was repeated as 
often as he chose. Men were kept in his rooms for 
weeks, without warrant, affidavit, or other semblance 
of authority. If the accused took any measures for his 
own protection, he was hurried into the Old Capitol 
Prison, where he was beyond the reach of the civil 
authorities. Baker's subordinates in other cities emu- 
lated and often surpassed the example of their chief. 
Powers such as they exercised were never similarly con- 
ferred by law under any government claiming to be 
enlightened. 

Corruption spread like a contagious disease, wherever 
the operations of these detectives extended. It soon 
became known that impunity for frauds against the 
government could be procured for money. Men who, 
but for the detective system, would never have thought 
of such enterprises, went into the regular business of 
illicit distilling, bounty -jumping, smuggling, defraud- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 34.7 

ing the customs, and other similar practices. Honest 
manufacturers and dealers, who paid their taxes, were 
pursued without mercy for the most technical breaches 
of the law, and were quickly driven out of business. 
The dishonest rapidly accumulated wealth, which they 
could well afford to share with their protectors. Good 
citizens became discouraged, and ceased to take any in- 
terest in the administration of justice, or the suppression 
of fraud. The worst predictions of the opponents of 
the detective system were speedily verified. 

The methods of Chief Baker were shown by actual oc- 
currences, one of which I will relate. It became evident 
that certain contractors were receiving preferences in 
the payment of their claims, in violation of an impera- 
tive rule of the department. Evidence of repeated in- 
fractions of this rule was produced. Brokers in New 
York would, for a commission, not only undertake to 
secure payment of claims by certain dates, but would 
inform claimants, in advance, of the date on which they 
would receive their money. This favoritism could only 
be accomplished in one of two ways ; either by changing 
the order of issuing the warrants for the payment of 
settled claims, or by changing the warrants on their way 
through the Treasury. If the first was the case, the 
fraud was in the secretary's office ; if the second, it was 
probably in the office of the register. I was satisfied 
that the warrant clerk in the office of the secretary was 
the guilty party, but he had the secretary's confidence, 
and regarded his position as impregnable. 

Baker undertook the investigation of this fraud with 
great enthusiasm. He announced that he should report 
to me twice every day ; that my suspicions had fallen 
upon the right person, but that he was operating with 
another clerk, and that the two were criminals of such 



348 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

experience and skill that nothing short of the machinery 
of his office would suffice for their detection. His re- 
ports were made with great detail, and finally announced 
that the guilty parties had become alarmed, and were 
on the point of taking flight with their plunder. The 
secretary, however, would not authorize their arrest, un- 
less I would certify that &prima facie case against them 
was made out. 

I declined to make this certificate. Baker's next re- 
port was, that the two clerks had become so suspicious 
that they did not speak to each other, nor correspond 
through the post-office ; that each sent his letters to a 
hollow tree in Georgetown, where they were deposited ; 
that he had already opened and read two of their let- 
ters and replaced them, and that, very soon, he expected 
to have proof of their criminality under their own hands. 

One day, while I was reading one of his rambling re- 
ports, Baker, on the opposite side of the table, was print- 
ing words with a pen on a loose sheet of paper, and had 
nearly covered a half-sheet with his own name, and other 
words, in imitation of printed capitals. This sheet he 
left on the table, and I, without any purpose in my 
mind, swept it into a drawer. Shortly afterwards, he 
came to inform me that the suspected persons were 
about to attempt a flight to Havana, and that one of 
them had written to the other, fixing upon the train 
by which they were to abscond, and asking for an an- 
swer, which answer he expected every moment to re- 
ceive from one of his men who was on the watch at the 
hollow tree. 

"While he was giving me this account, he was called 
out of the office in an excited manner by one of his men. 
He soon returned, and, with an air of mystery, threw a 
letter on the table, observing that, " If we could see the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 34.9 

inside of that, I would probably be willing to consent 
to the arrest, for we should have the scoundrels, sure !" 

My eye had caught the direction. I took up the let- 
ter and began deliberately to open it. 

" Hold ! hold !" he exclaimed. " Don't you know 
that it is a felony to open a letter addressed to another 
without his authority ?" 

" I think I will take the risk," I said. I opened and 
read from it a long farrago about steamers from Cuba, 
the register's suspicions, Baker's unrelenting pursuit and 
watchfulness, the writer's danger, etc. 

" Are you not willing to give the order for their ar- 
rest upon that evidence ?" he asked. 

I smoothed the letter upon the table, and laid by its 
side his own scribbled sheet, taken from my drawer, 
and asked somewhat sternly, 

" Colonel Baker, do you not think both these docu- 
ments were written by the same hand ?" 

Perfectly unabashed, without a blush, the fellow 
smiled as he looked me in the face and said, 

" That game didn't work, did it ? It was a good one, 
but the best plans will sometimes fail. If I could have 
got your consent to an arrest, I would have had their 
confessions before morning. We must now try another 
plan." 

" No," I said. " I suspected you were a fraud, and 
now I know it ! You are of the same pattern with al- 
most every detective I ever knew. You were willing 
to involve me in your scheme of deceit, in order to get 
an opportunity of frightening these men into confession. 
You may have the poor excuse of having practised false- 
hood so long that you have forgotten how to be honest. 
However that may be, I shall end all communication 
with you by reporting you to the secretary. 



350 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

I knew he was armed, but I was very sure that he 
was a coward, and would not resent a kick, if I chose 
to administer it. He took no offence whatever. 

" I always did like a frank man," he observed. " I 
think we now understand each other, and shall get along 
admirably. You will like me when you know me better." 

I satisfied him that the conversation could not be pro- 
tracted. But from this time forward he always insisted 
that we were the best of friends. An accident soon af- 
terwards led to the exposure of the guilty clerk. 

I never did understand under what authority Baker 
exercised his unendurable tyranny. He never hesitated 
to arrest men of good position, put them in irons, and 
keep them imprisoned for weeks. He seemed to control 
the Old Capitol Prison, and one of his deputies was its 
keeper. He always lived at the first hotels, had an 
abundance of money, and I am sure did more to disgust 
good citizens and bring the government into disrepute 
than the strongest opponents of the system had ever 
predicted. He opened an office in the Astor House in 
New York, formed a partnership with a notorious per- 
son called " The. Allen," who enlisted twelve hundred 
vagrants and tramps, promising them an opportunity 
to desert. Instead of being permitted to desert, the re- 
cruits were hurried to the front. They Avere worth- 
less as soldiers, having been enlisted by deception, and 
the whole scheme was a detestable fraud. This was 
Baker's method of breaking up " bounty -jumping," and 
may be taken as an average illustration of his practices. 
He managed to appropriate the credit due to a party of 
cavalrymen in the pursuit and capture of the assassins 
of the President, and maintained his rank and office to 
the end of the war. 

It is probably too late now to dispense with the de- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 351 

tective system. The system itself created a class of 
criminals who now require its continuance. Training 
and attention have developed a better class of officers 
for the secret service of the Treasury. Here and there 
a few men of ability have taken up the detection of 
crime as a science, and among them the Pinkertons, and 
Inspector Byrnes, of New York city, may be recognized 
as useful officers of great ability. But they are con- 
spicuous exceptions to a very general rule, and do not 
affect the estimate of conservative men with old ideas 
of integrity and principle in regard to the system as a 
whole. Such men will not approve the use of such 
means, although the multitude may cry out, "Let us 
do evil, that good may come !" 

The guilty clerk whom Baker was pursuing was not 
long in exposing his methods. His New York asso- 
ciates now openly offered their facilities for securing 
prompt payment of claims, for a commission, to con- 
tractors. The suspected clerk set up his carriage, be- 
came a patron of coryphees of the ballet, and indulged 
in other luxuries quite inconsistent with his salary of 
$1600 per year. I carried the next warrant, marked 
" special," that was presented for signature to the secre- 
tary. As I suspected, he knew nothing about it. In 
as few words as possible I pointed out the circumstances, 
and the secretary instantly sent for the warrant clerk. 
It was too late. He must have seen me enter the secre- 
tary's office with the warrant in my hand he had taken 
the alarm and fled. He was not arrested. For such a 
piece of work as the arrest of a real criminal Baker was 
worthless. The practice, however, was broken up. 

Some years afterwards, in my office in New York, I 
was told that a person wished to see me who bore every 



352 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

appearance of a " tramp." In the outer office I found 
a poor palsied, ragged creature, having every mark of 
poverty and destitution. He extended his hand in a 
furtive manner, then withdrew it, and in a broken voice 
said, " You don't remember me. I am II , once war- 
rant clerk in the Treasury. I was discharged from the 
hospital yesterday. I have eaten nothing since. I am 
weak and hungry. Will you not lend me two shillings 
to get a breakfast ?" It was the man who once kept his 
carriage, and was the confidential clerk of the Secretary 
of the Treasury. " How much money will take you to 
your home and your friends ?" I asked. " I have no 
home and no friends," he said, despairingly. I relieved 
his necessities ; he went from my office and I saw him 
no more. 



XL. 

PUBLIC MISCONCEPTIONS OF THE VALUE OF SALARIED OF- 
FICES. GENERAL STANNARD. 

IP civil offices were estimated at their actual instead 
of their imaginary value, those who dispense them would 
not be troubled by the pertinacity of the office-seeker. 
Civil officers of the United States of all grades, with few 
exceptions, are underpaid. The amount and character 
of the service required, given to almost any of the pur- 
suits of private life, would be much better rewarded. 
Why, then, do so many good citizens enter this mad race 
for office at every opportunity ? It is a race in which 
scores are beaten and endure the shame and mortifica- 
tion of defeat where one succeeds ; in which the winner 
is in the end the loser, and deserves commiseration rather 
than congratulations for his success. 

There is a certain glamour over public office which is 
extremely deceptive. This is particularly the case with 
offices which have to do with the receipt and disburse- 
ment of money. Many times I have pointed out to ap- 
plicants for these offices the inadequacy of their salaries, 
and the impossibility of increasing their income in any 
honest way. They see, but will not be convinced. They 
are certain that handling so much money must be profit- 
able. If they can once get the place, they are sure that 
they can find a way to make it lucrative. 

From the days when Hamilton was the Secretary of 
the Treasury to the present time, the ingenuity of finan- 
cial officers and members of Congress has been taxed to 
23 



354 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

render impossible the very results for which the office- 
seeker is hoping. They have so surrounded official life 
with checks, guards, and penalties that it may now be 
stated as an axiom that, except by stealing, there is no 
way known among men of making an office profitable 
beyond its appointed salary. 

Errors in judgment in this respect have been the ruin 
of many worthy men. The subject is important. An 
actual occurrence, which fell under my own observation, 
will serve as an illustration. 

The War of the Kebellion created or developed many 
brave and brilliant soldiers. None of them had a better 
record than Major-General George J. Stannard. On the 
15th of April, 1861, he was the superintendent of an iron 
foundry in St. Albans, Vermont, and an officer of a com- 
pany of uniformed militia in that town. He entered the 
service as a colonel, and was rapidly promoted through 
all the grades to the rank of a major-general. He never 
failed in his duty, and seldom omitted to distinguish 
himself in battle. He was several times wounded, and 
finally lost an arm. He appeared to be destitute of 
fear, and was at once the pride and admiration of his 
men. An account of the battle of Gettysburg will never 
be read which does not contain a conspicuous notice of 
General Stannard. It was his brigade which held the 
front line on the left centre of the Union forces, on 
which General Lee, for more than two hours, concen- 
trated the fire of 140 pieces of artillery, and against 
which the famous charge of Pickett's division was di- 
rected. It was his inspiration that caught the instant 
when that mad rush of a charging army was defeated 
to order out upon its flank two regiments which, at the 
distance of a pistol-shot, poured their deadly volleys into 
the mass of Confederates, which so demoralized them that 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 355 

they never halted until three or four thousand of them 
passed to the rear as prisoners of war. It was conceded 
by military critics to have been one of the most brilliant 
military acts of the war to have been almost without a 
parallel in its history. In the final campaign he com- 
manded a division of the Eighteenth Corps, which capt- 
ured and held Fort Harrison, and it was in defending 
it against an attempt made by ten brigades to recapture 
it that he lost his arm. 

When General Grant was elected President, General 
Stannard became a candidate for the office of collector 
of the district of Vermont. He asked me to sign his 
recommendations. I declined, on the ground that I es- 
teemed him too highly to promote his ruin. I argued 
with him, I pointed him to the statute which limited the 
annual pay of the office to $2500. I showed him that it 
might not amount to half that sum, and that none but a 
close business man, who would rigidly obey the law, and 
touch no dollar of the government money, could take 
the office without peril to himself and to the friends 
who became his sureties. I failed to make the slightest 
impression upon him. Somebody had told him that a 
former incumbent had cleared annually $10,000 from the 
office; that what had been done could be done. He 
went away offended, and for some months treated me as 
his personal enemy. 

He obtained the appointment. His intimate friends 
became his sureties, and for something like a year he 
was a most popular collector. To the rigid rules of the 
Treasury he paid not much attention. As the receipts 
of the office flowed in, they were deposited in the Treas- 
ury, or in the pocket of the collector, as happened at the 
time to be most convenient. Money was abundant with 
him, and, with the open hand of a soldier, when he had 



356 RECOLLECTIONS OP PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

a dollar he gave half of it to any friend who had none. 
In short, he administered the office under a code of rules 
of his own invention. Everybody was delighted. He 
was the friend of everybody, and he naturally had a 
larger circle of friends than any of his predecessors in 
the office. 

Very gentle is the first letter of the first auditor to a 
collector when his quarterly accounts show a balance 
on the wrong side. The error is attributed to accident, 
to inadvertence, of course. The collector is referred to 
certain rules, which he will observe in future ; one of 
these is that every dollar received be deposited in the 
Treasury. But under its most courteous concluding 
words the collector will discover, upon close examina- 
tion, a most positive direction to deposit the balance im- 
mediately ! 

Woe to the collector if, instead of acting upon the 
hint, he lays the letter aside to be attended to at some 
more convenient season, until perhaps some friend pays 
his loan, or money flows in from some other quarter. 
He may have a short grace of a few days at first, but 
never afterwards. These letters require attention. No 
doubt there is a " First Auditor's Complete Letter Writ- 
er," with progressive examples, each sharper and more 
pointed than the last, to enforce upon the delinquent the 
conviction that he is the servant of a department which 
has rules that must be obeyed and enforced. These re- 
minders become so frequent that the sight of an official 
envelope gives him a chill. Then for a few days the 
correspondence ceases. The officer flatters himself that 
his case has been laid aside, and he breathes more freely. 

Some morning (they always appear early in the day) 
a stranger enters the office of the collector, and delivers 
to him another official envelope. It contains his sus- 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 357 

pension from office, and an order to turn over to the 
bearer the entire contents of the office, the duties of 
which will be discharged by Special Agent Roe or Doe, 
pending an investigation. From that day the growth 
of the delinquent's troubles begins, and proceeds beyond 
anything he ever imagined. With the sharpness of an 
expert the agent finds every dollar of the money of the 
United States, and follows it to its illegitimate disposal. 
Higher and higher mounts the balance, until it reaches 
a sum which the officer might as well undertake to dis- 
charge the national debt as to pay. The climax of mis- 
ery is reached when the agent points the collector to 
the statute which declares the misappropriation of each 
of these dollars a felony, punishable by imprisonment at 
hard labor. All this happened to General Stannard in 
an incredibly short space of time. He was really guilty 
of no crime but negligence. He had not squandered the 
money among evil companions, nor in riotous living, nor 
in the payment of his own debts. In fact, he could not 
tell why or whither the money had gone. But it had 
taken to itself wings, it had departed, it was not where 
it should have been, in the Treasury, and he was a de- 
faulter, a ruined bankrupt, a disgraced man. It was 
even doubtful whether his sureties could make up the 
loss. Some of them were certainly ruined. His reputa- 
tion as a citizen was gone forever, and even his hard- 
earned fame as a soldier was stained and tarnished. 

Those who visited the Ladies' Gallery of the House of 
Representatives in Washington during the Forty-first 
and Forty-second Congresses may have noticed, seated 
at the door, a silent, sad-faced man who had lost an arm. 
He was attentive to his duties, very courteous to every 
visitor. But he did not often speak to any one, and a 
smile seldom dispelled the sadness of his face. There 



358 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

he remained until he died. No one asked for his place 
or sought his removal. Even the fiercest of the appli- 
cants for office appeared to concede his right to retain 
this one until he surrendered it of his own will. 

When I first recognized him there, it was a long time 
before I could break through his reserve and engage him 
in conversation. At last it gave way. " If I had fol- 
lowed your advice," he said, "I might have remained 
poor, but I should at least have preserved my own self- 
respect, and the respect of my friends and bondsmen. 
I must have been insane when I treated you as my 
enemy !" 

There is no reason for giving further details. This 
poor, discouraged, ruined man, a doorkeeper in one of 
the legislative branches of the republic, was all that re- 
mained of a gallant general of division, who had led 
armies over the walls of forts, against thrice their num- 
ber, to victory. He it was who many times had wrested 
triumph out of the iron jaws of defeat. It was his flash- 
ing eye which had faced the rush of an army as it hurled 
itself upon the Union forces ; and, seizing the critical 
moment, it was his hand that delivered the decisive blow 
in the greatest battle of the century, his genius that won 
the victory which restored a divided union and made ours 
the greatest republic of the world. 

I hope, and I believe it is true, that under the opera- 
tion of the civil-service system, the rush after clerical 
positions under the government has been checked, if not 
wholly arrested. Thousands, who might have been ac- 
tive and useful citizens in private life, have condemned 
themselves to lives of anxiety and misery by their suc- 
cess in securing one of these positions. A man is buried 
in them. His duties become routine, he is soon inca- 
pable of doing anything better ; in an incredibly short 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 359 

time he has lost all connection with the world, he is in 
peril of removal with every change of administration, 
and as he has forgotten how to do anything else, re- 
moval is his ruin. No men better deserve the atten- 
tion of philanthropists than the clerks in the government 
service. 

In the few salaried offices not subject to the civil-ser- 
vice system, the situation is no better. These necessa- 
rily change with the administration. The term of service 
is so brief, the demands upon the incumbent are so numer- 
ous, that no active man can afford to accept one of them, 
unless for a brief honor he is willing to pay a large price. 
It will be a fortunate day for the country when the civil- 
service system is extended to all the government offices, 
except the Cabinet and those immediately connected with 
Congress. 

While a few have managed to keep their heads above 
water, how many of my contemporaries have gone down 
beneath the waves of government service ! Some, sent 
to Washington as members of Congress, have degenerat- 
ed into claim agents, and thence into the depths of politi- 
cal pauperism. Some, appointed to small offices, have 
bartered their independence for insignificant salaries, 
and have become the hacks of either party which will 
give them employment. Others, losing their offices, have 
sunk into poverty, a few, alas ! into crime. I am unable 
to recall an instance where one of my friends, having be- 
come dependent on a small office for a livelihood, proved 
afterwards of any considerable value to his country or 
mankind. 



XLI. 

WAS GENERAL THOMAS LOYAL? 

GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS is dead. Since his death, 
and that of nearly all his witnesses, it has been alleged 
that he was disloyal. Some Southern historical society 
claims to have discovered proofs that he at first decided 
to cast his lot with his own people ; in other words, to 
follow the example of other officers of Southern origin. 

Colonel Henry Stone, of the Army of the Cumberland, 
has recently, in a vigorous article, published in the New 
York Tribune of June 7th, 1890, given this unfounded 
statement its quietus. General Thomas was slow to an- 
ger, but if anything would cause him, " in complete steel," 
to revisit "the glimpses of the moon," and blast the 
slanderer with a look, it would be such a charge as this 
against his memory. 

I am able to contribute one or two facts on this sub- 
ject. Even before the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, Gen- 
eral Scott was very anxious about the safety of the pub- 
lic property of large value in Texas, which was under 
the control of General Twiggs. The Second U. S. 
Cavalry, of which Thomas was major, was stationed 
there, and it was upon information communicated by 
him that General Scott insisted upon the transfer of 
General Twiggs to another post. But Twiggs was a 
favorite of President Buchanan. General Scott's wishes 
were disregarded, and on the 23d of February Twiggs 
delivered himself, as many regular soldiers as he could 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 361 

control, and public property valued at one million two 
hundred and nine thousand five hundred dollars, to the 
state of Texas. After the horse was stolen the stable 
was locked. On the first day of March, Secretary Holt 
issued an order dismissing Twiggs from the army " for 
his treachery to the flag of his country." 

Early in April the men who declined to be surrendered 
by Twiggs began to arrive in New York. Thomas, 
though on sick leave, received and disposed of them, and 
from that time was one of the most active and reliable 
assistants of General Scott. April 21st was a lively day 
in Washington. Lee sent to General Scott a notice of 
his resignation. The Baltimore committee were in Wash- 
ington, protesting that no more Northern regiments 
should be permitted to pass through Maryland. They 
brought information that the authorities of Maryland 
had ordered the railroad bridges to be burned and all 
the railroads broken up. General Scott undertook to 
restore and maintain railroad communication with the 
North. He did not hesitate for a moment. He ordered 
a detachment, which he could scarcely afford to spare 
from the few regulars in the city, to disperse the Plug- 
Uglies who were threatening the destruction of the 
railroad between Baltimore and Harrisburg, and Major 
Thomas was the officer selected by him to command the 
detachment. 

All this occurred on Sunday. There were loyal men 
from Baltimore in active communication with the Presi- 
dent, and it was at their suggestion that the force was 
ordered to protect the Northern railroad. They objected 
to intrusting so important a matter to Major Thomas, 
and insisted upon the appointment of Colonel Mansfield. 
The President referred them to General Scott. 

"Why do you object to Major Thomas? What do you 



362 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

know to the prejudice of Major Thomas ?" demanded the 
old chieftain. 

They had nothing against Major Thomas, except that 
he was a Virginian. All the Virginians were resigning ; 
even Colonel Lee had gone over to the rebels. They 
feared that Major Thomas would follow his example. 

" I am more fortunate than you are. I know Major 
Thomas ; he is incapable of disloyalty. I would intrust 
him with what is to me the most precious thing on earth 
my country's flag ! I know that some Virginians have 
deserted it. But there are Virginians whom I am not 
afraid to trust, for I also am a Virginian !" said the old 
hero, proudly. 

I never heard the loyalty of General Thomas ques- 
tioned after this endorsement. He was understood 
to be a worker, one of the most efficient organizers of 
his time. He was more quiet and unassuming than 
Colonel Mansfield, but equally reliable and true. He had 
a peculiar mental organization. He was cautious and 
deliberate; he would not fight until he was prepared. 
His military career was an unbroken success. From Mill 
Springs, before the capture of Fort Henry, to the crush- 
ing defeat which he administered to Hood before Nash- 
ville, I do not remember that he lost a battle. His 
tenacity was unyielding. " You must hold Chattanoo- 
ga !" General Grant had telegraphed to him, when Long- 
street held him at bay. " We will hold the town until 
we starve !" was his reply. And his animals did starve, 
and his men came very near doing likewise before his 
communications could be opened. But he gave no sign 
of surrender. In all his campaigns he never moved fast 
enough to satisfy Grant. When the " March to the Sea" 
was decided upon, Grant and Sherman were both of the 
opinion that Hood would move northward to recover 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 363 

Tennessee and Kentucky. They left him to the care of 
Thomas, intending to reinforce his small army, so as to 
enable him to cope with Hood and all the rebel force 
north of Atlanta. It was a perilous movement on the 
part of Sherman. If Hood was not arrested before he 
took Nashville, the result might be fatal. Sherman must 
have had great confidence in Thomas, since the success 
of the whole campaign would depend upon the result of 
a single battle, which Thomas was to win against a vet- 
eran army larger than his own. 

Sherman left Atlanta on the 15th of November. 
Thomas abandoned all the intervening positions, and 
Hood apparently forced him back, step by step, into the 
defences of Nashville, which he reached on the 3d of 
December. 

Hood attacked Scofield at Franklin, but was compelled 
to draw off after an indecisive battle. Thomas sent no 
reinforcements to Scofield, rightly judging that the lat- 
ter would be able to hold his own, and also because he 
preferred to choose his own ground for the decisive 
struggle. 

General Grant misunderstood the deliberation of Gen- 
eral Thomas's policy, and, from the day Sherman left 
Atlanta, pressed him to attack the enemy. As Thomas 
made no answer, but continued to retire, Grant became 
more emphatic, and finally, when the former was appar- 
ently forced back to Nashville, the orders to attack be- 
came peremptory. As Thomas gave no sign in reply, 
Grant became anxious, and, being satisfied that further 
delay would be fatal, directed Logan to relieve Thomas, 
and take the command of his army. His solicitude in- 
creasing, he left his camp before Richmond and started 
for Nashville. He reached Washington on the day when 

)gan arrived at Cincinnati. 



364 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

I give these facts upon the authority of Captain Fox, 
whose relations with the President were at that time of 
the most intimate character. He related the incident 
immediately after its occurrence, as a strong proof of 
the accuracy of the President's judgment, and as show- 
ing how confidently he relied upon it in dealing with 
men. He said that General Grant informed the Presi- 
dent of his anxiety about General Thomas, and of his 
purpose to relieve him and place General Logan in his 
command. The President suggested that, as General 
Thomas was one of the most cautious and prudent of 
the generals, whether it might not be that his judgment 
on the ground was better than that of others who were 
five hundred miles away ; and that it might be better to 
wait for more evidence that it was erroneous before re- 
moving him. General Grant observed that that might 
be, if the consequences of his defeat would not be so se- 
rious that he was a very competent officer, but habit- 
ually slow, and this time he had been slower than ever. 
" But has he not always 'got there' in time?" said the 
President. " Some generals have been in such haste that 
they have had to move in the wrong direction." How- 
ever, the President declined to interfere or to influence 
the judgment of General Grant any further than to say, 
that " General Thomas acquired my confidence in April, 
1861, and he has ever since retained it." 

Fortunately, General Grant remained in "Washington 
until the evening train for the West. Before he left, de- 
spatches were received from General Thomas, stating 
that he was ready, and proposed to attack Hood the next 
morning. General Grant decided to wait for results. 

Possibly the finest trait in the character of General 
Grant was the freedom with which he admitted his own 
errors, and especially his misjudgment of others. His 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 365 

despatches to Thomas implied censure, and had culmi- 
nated in an order relieving him from his command. We 
may now leave General Grant himself to describe the 
sequel. 

In his Memoirs, Grant says, in substance, that he had 
directed Logan not to take the command if he found 
Thomas ready to fight that Thomas did fight and " was 
successful from the start ; and that he assailed the ene- 
my in their intrenchments, and, after a desperate resist- 
ance, they fled in disorder, abandoning everything. In 
order to use his entire strength, Thomas had dismounted 
his cavalry, and fought them as infantry. This fact and 
some accidents prevented his effective pursuit of Hood. 
But the morale of the latter's army was destroyed, its 
fighting strength annihilated, so that it was rendered in- 
capable of inflicting further injury to the Union cause." 

The battle of Nashville crushed the Confederacy in 
the West, and made Sherman's " march to the sea " mem- 
orable in the annals of military science. The result was 
foreseen by Thomas, who pursued his plans with a de- 
liberation which nothing could disturb, from the time he 
parted company with Sherman until, having collected 
and marshalled his forces for the final act, he dealt his 
annihilating blow to the rebellion before Nashville. Such 
a general could not fail to gain the complete confidence 
of his men. Well might General Grant send him from 
Washington his congratulations on " the splendid success 
of to-day." We who watched his career from that anx- 
ious Sunday in April, 1861, to its culmination before 
Nashville in December, 1864, should at least defend his 
memory, and see to it that, while we live, no spot or 
blemish shall stain the record of this modest, great 
soldier. 



XLIL 

THE IMPARTIAL JUDGMENT OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN. THE RES- 
IGNATION OF SECRETARY CHASE. ITS CAUSES AND CONSE- 
QUENCES. 

THE endeavor now to write anything novel about 
President Lincoln is like gleaning in an exhausted field. 
While he has been gradually rising to the position he 
now holds in the world's esteem, it is not strange that 
those who had any acquaintance with him should each 
wish to contribute his mite to the aggregate of material 
concerning a man of such distinguished abilities. No 
American, possibly no public man anywhere, has had so 
many biographers ; no biographers have ever written 
with a more imperfect knowledge of their subject than 
some of the authors of the so-called lives of Lincoln. 
Some of these writers have private griefs to ventilate, 
and, not courageous enough to oppose the general opin- 
ion of his sterling worth, have descended in a shame- 
faced way to make public assumed defects in his char- 
acter ; and others, claiming to be his old associates and 
friends, have hinted at scandals connected with his ori- 
gin and early life which had no foundation, and which 
would never have been heard of but for their officious- 
ness. Their poor excuse is a desire to exhibit Mr. Lin- 
coln as he was, and not as the world would have him to 
be. There have been in the lives of all great men oc- 
currences upon which friendship lays the seal of silence, 
and it would have been more to the credit of these 
writers if they had emulated the dignified silence with 
which Mr. Lincoln treated unfortunate circumstances 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 367 

which he could neither prevent nor control. Examples 
of both these classes will be found in any collection of 
the lives of Mr. Lincoln, and conspicuously in one col- 
lection claimed to have been written by the " distin- 
guished men of his time." 

One consequence of the caccethes scribendi about Mr. 
Lincoln is that all the events of his life, the incidents of 
his professional career, the apt stories attributed to him, 
many of which he never heard, have been rewritten so 
many times, with such variations as the peculiar views 
of the writer at the moment suggested, that the points 
of some of the best have been lost and others so muti- 
lated that they are no longer recognizable. The resig- 
nation of the Treasury by Mr. Chase in June, 1864, has 
not escaped the general mutilation. It was an impor- 
tant event ; its incidents throw a flood of light over the 
characters of both the principals. As it has been some- 
times described, it is a quarrel between two politicians, 
of little consequence to them, of none to anybody else. 
Some of the accounts begin with the nomination of 
Governor Tod, and omit the important events by which 
it was preceded. Except that of Messrs. Nicolay and Hay, 
all the accounts that I have seen attribute the resignation 
to Mr. Chase's desire for the Kepublican nomination for 
the Presidency in 1864, when, in fact, he had given up 
all hope of it for 1864, more than six months previously. 

This aftermath of Lincoln material seems to increase 
as the living witnesses disappear. Soon its inventors will 
be able to exclaim, with a distinguished fabricator of his- 
tory, " "Who is there to dispute what I say ?" What, then, 
is the earnest student to do ? How is he to distinguish 
between the false and the true the wheat of fact and 
the chaff of fiction ? There can be but one answer to the 
inquiry. He will do it just as the works of great mas- 



368 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ters have always been distinguished from their counter- 
feits. There is a flavor about a genuine Lincoln sen- 
tence or story which is unmistakable as different as 
possible from those of any other man. As the connois- 
seur in art identifies a Rembrandt or a Diirer at a glance, 
as the teller in the Federal Treasury casts out the de- 
fective coin by a touch, so will the earnest student be- 
come an expert in Lincolniana, in the sentences he has 
written, in all the events of his life. A single glance at 
a new fact or story will decide whether it has the ring 
of the true metal or the leaden sound of the counter- 
feit. By such experts must future lives and anecdotes 
be judged; to their judgment I submit the following 
version of one of the most important and striking events 
of his public career. 

One of these old friends and associates declares that 
Mr. Lincoln had no faith. If Paul understood the sub- 
ject, and faith is " the substance of things hoped for, the 
evidence of things not seen," then no man ever had a 
faith more perfect and sincere than Mr. Lincoln. Once, 
during a half-soliloquy in the Eegister's Office, while 
the register and his messenger were engaged in their 
work, and, as he liked them to be, paying no attention 
to him, he broke into a magnificent outburst a word- 
painting of what the South would be when the war 
was over, slavery destroyed, and she had had an oppor- 
tunity to develop her resources under the benignant in- 
fluence of peace. Twenty years and more afterwards 
this scene flashed upon my memory with the vividness 
of an electric light as I recognized the word-picture of 
Mr. Lincoln in the following words of welcome by an 
eloquent Southerner to a Northern delegation : " You 
are standing," he said, " at this moment in the gateway 
that leads to the South. The wealth that is there, no 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 369 

longer hidden from human eyes, flashes in your very 
faces. You can smell the roses of a new hope that fill 
the air. You can hear the heart-beats of progress that 
come as upon the wings of heaven. You can reach forth 
your hands and almost clutch the gold that the sun rains 
down with his beams, as he takes his daily journey be- 
tween the coal-mine and the cotton-field ; the highlands 
of wood and iron, of marble and granite; the lowlands 
of tobacco, of sugar and rice, of corn and kine, of wine, 
milk, and honey." Such was the picture of the South 
presented to the eye of Mr. Lincoln's faith, and very 
similar were the words in which that picture was repre- 
sented. 

I have written the following account largely from 
personal knowledge, from what I myself saw and heard. 
The principal incidents were written in my journal 
about the time they occurred. It has been the regret 
of my subsequent life that I did not at the time know 
how great a man Mr. Lincoln was ; that I did not at the 
time write out and preserve an account of many other 
things said and done by him. This occurrence was an 
exception. I felt at the time that Mr. Lincoln was re- 
vealing himself to me in a new and elevated character, 
and I undertook to record the words in which that rev- 
elation was made. 

The resignation by Secretary Chase of his position as 
the chief financial officer of the United States closed his 
prospects as a Presidental candidate with the Republi- 
can, and did not improve them with the Democratic 
party. It was an act which was calculated to embarrass 
the President, for which there was no good excuse. He 
inferred from past events that his resignation would not 
be accepted ; he hoped that it would demonstrate to the 
country that he had become a necessity of the financial 



370 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

situation, and thereby secure to him its more perfect 
control. 

A question of forgery had arisen in the Assistant Treas- 
ury in New York. The auditor who signed checks for 
the payment of money pronounced two checks returned 
to him as paid, amounting to nearly $10,000, to be for- 
geries. The responsibility for the money lay between 
Mr. Cisco and the auditor. If the checks were genuine, 
the auditor if they were forged, Mr. Cisco, must bear 
the loss. 

Mr. Cisco claimed to know that the checks bore the 
genuine signature of the auditor. He so testified in an 
examination which took place before a commissioner of 
the United States. He declined to admit a possibility 
that he could be mistaken. His experience, he said, en- 
abled him to identify a genuine, or detect a forged sig- 
nature with unerring certainty. No one could imitate 
his signature so as to cause him to hesitate. He was as 
certain that the disputed signatures were genuine as 
though he had seen them written. 

Friends of the auditor, who were confident of his in- 
tegrity, finding that the mind of Mr. Cisco was closed to 
all the presumptions arising from the long service and 
the unblemished character of the accused, availed them- 
selves of the assistance of experts and of photography. 
An expert wrote an imitation of the assistant treas- 
urer's name, which that officer testified was his own 
genuine signature. He was as certain of it as he was 
of the genuineness of the disputed checks! The evi- 
dence of the expert who wrote the imitation, and an 
enlarged photograph of the signatures to the checks, 
made their traced, painted, false, and spurious character 
so apparent that the auditor was at once exonerated, 
notwithstanding the positive evidence of his chief. The 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 3Y1 

result so intensely mortified him that he promptly re- 
signed his office of assistant treasurer, declaring that 
nothing should induce him to withdraw his resigna- 
tion. 

Secretary Chase was fond of those who recognized his 
eminence, and were ready to serve him as their acknowl- 
edged superior. Those especially who were watchful of 
his convenience and of opportunities to contribute to his 
personal comforts secured a strong position in his es- 
teem. Maunsel B. Field, an attache in the office of the 
assistant treasurer of New York, was conspicuously a 
person of this class. From the first visit of the secre- 
tary to New York after he took office, Mr. Field had at- 
tached himself to his personal service. His devotion to 
that service was perfect ; so that afterwards, as the vis- 
its of the secretary increased in frequency, Mr. Field at- 
tended to his social engagements, and became the 
authorized agent for communication with him. Mr. 
Field was a person of polished manners, who had the 
entree into society. He was also a writer for the news- 
papers and a Democrat, without much position or fol- 
lowing in his party. His service was so attentive that 
the secretary came to regard him as a kind of personal 
society representative. The office of Third Assistant 
Secretary of the Treasury was created for him. He was 
appointed to it, and removed to Washington, where he 
was afterwards employed in a confidential relation near 
the secretary's person. There were facts, of which it 
is impossible that the secretary long remained ignorant, 
which, though not reflecting upon his personal integrity, 
it was represented necessarily disqualified him for any 
position of trust or pecuniary responsibilty. From time 
to time he absented himself from the Treasury, some- 
times for weeks together. No one seemed to know 



372 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

whither he retired, or to have any knowledge of the 
cause of his absence. 

Mr. Cisco had filled his important office of assistant 
treasurer with great fidelity to the country and credit 
to himself. The fact that he was a member of the 
Democratic party, most earnest in his co-operation with 
the administration in all its measures for the suppression 
of the rebellion, had enabled him to contribute to the 
success of Mr. Chase's financial measures more power- 
fully, probably, than any Kepublican could have done in 
the same position, while his personal influence upon 
members of his own party had been strong, and always 
exerted to promote the cause of the Union. Yery strong 
Eepublican influences were therefore brought forward 
to induce Mr. Cisco to reconsider his resignation, but he 
had apparently determined to return to private life, and 
peremptorily insisted upon its acceptance. 

Always having great responsibility from the amount 
of public treasure intrusted to his care, the assistant 
treasurer at New York was at that time the most im- 
portant civil officer in the republic, next after the 
members of the cabinet. The bank presidents of New 
York city, Boston, and Philadelphia then represented 
the money of the nation, and, acting together, as they 
usually did, they could promote the early success of or 
delay and obstruct the financial measures of the govern- 
ment. That they had always hitherto supported the 
secretary, and co-operated in the execution of his plans, 
had been largely due to the influence of Mr. Cisco. 
There had been occasions when these bank officers had 
attempted to defeat some of these plans, or, at least, to 
limit their success. But the strength of the secretary 
was re-enforced by the persistent influence of Mr. Cisco, 
always discreetly but constantly operating, so that when 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 373 

Mr. Chase met these gentlemen in the assistant treas- 
urer's office, as he so frequently did, his personal mag- 
netism usually brought them to his support. It was, 
therefore, most desirable that Mr. Cisco's succcessor 
should, so far as practicable, possess his qualities, sustain 
his relations to the banks, and continue to exercise his 
good judgment. Such a man was not readily found. 
Ex-Governor Morgan, then a senator from New York, 
a financier of wide experience, and intimately acquaint- 
ed with all the conditions which controlled financial 
movements in that city, took an active interest in the 
New York appointments. He was one of the most in- 
fluential Republicans in Congress, who was upon every 
ground entitled to be consulted in regard to this ap- 
pointment. He suggested Mr. John A. Stewart, the 
president of the oldest and wealthiest trust company in 
the city, an able financier of ripe experience, a pure and 
patriotic man, as Mr. Cisco's successor. Secretary Chase 
approved it, and the suggestion met with universal favor. 
But Mr. Stewart would not accept the appointment. 
He was unwilling to sacrifice his permanent position for 
one the tenure of which was uncertain, and this consid- 
eration was found to be controlling with other eminent 
financial men possessed of similar qualifications. 

While it was generally understood that the Republi- 
can congressmen of New York were looking for a suit- 
able successor to Mr. Cisco, they were amazed by the 
discovery that Secretary Chase had sent the name of 
Maunsel B. Field to the President for appointment to 
that responsible office. The fact became public through 
Mr. Field himself, who disclosed it to Republicans to 
whom he applied for recommendations. It produced 
something like an explosion of indignant opposition. 

It seemed impossible to account for this nomination 



374 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

upon the ordinary motives which control human action. 
It was one which Secretary Chase should have known 
was unwise to be made. The nominee had not one of the 
qualities which had made Mr. Cisco strong, or which 
had led to the selection of Mr. Stewart. He had no 
financial or political standing, and his natural abilities 
were of a literary rather than an executive character. 
It was not surprising, therefore, that Senator Morgan 
and other Republicans hurried to the President and 
indignantly protested against Mr. Field's nomination. 
They did not measure their words. They claimed that 
such an appointment would be an insult to the Union 
men of New York ; that it would injure the party and 
disgrace the administration ; and, finally, they offered to 
procure a written protest against the nomination, to be 
signed by every Republican senator and member of the 
House in the present Congress. 

From the time the opposition to him was made public, 
the nomination of Mr. Field became impossible. The 
natural course obviously was for the President to as- 
sume that Secretary Chase had suggested him in igno- 
rance of the objections now urged against him ; to re- 
quest the secretary to withdraw Mr. Field and make an- 
other nomination. But there had already been friction 
between the President and the secretary on the subject 
of nominations ; the latter insisting that as he was held 
responsible for the administration of the Treasury, he 
should hold the unrestricted power of appointment and 
removal. The President conceded his claim, but main- 
tained that it should be reasonably exercised, and that 
he should not be requested to make an appointment to 
an office in a state the whole congressional delegation 
of which opposed it, which would prove injurious to the 
party, or which was contrary to the traditions of the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 375 

administration. In other instances the secretary had 
shown himself unwilling to admit even these restric- 
tions, and in the case of one appointment made against 
the wishes of the Republicans of a state, and rejected 
by the Senate, he threatened to resign his office unless 
the President renominated the rejected candidate a 
second time. Although the difficulty in the case re- 
ferred to was compromised, the President anticipated 
that Secretary Chase would insist upon Mr. Field's ap- 
pointment, notwithstanding all the objections an opin- 
ion in which he was confirmed by the fact that the 
secretary neither called upon nor communicated with 
him after some of the New York Republicans had re- 
monstrated against the nomination to Mr. Chase in 
person. 

After twenty-four hours' delay the President, waiving 
all ceremony, sent a polite note to the Treasury asking 
his Secretary to oblige him by sending him the nomina- 
tion of some one who was not objectionable to the sen- 
ators from New York. Instead of withdrawing Mr. 
Field's name, Secretary Chase replied by note, asking for 
an interview. When two parties are seated actually in 
sight of, and begin to write formal notes to each other, 
they are neither very likely nor very desirous to agree. 
The President declined the interview, on the ground 
that the difference between them did not lie within the 
range of a conversation. In the meantime the inge- 
nuity of Mr. Field himself devised a way out of the diffi- 
culty. Finding that he would lose the appointment, he 
brought certain Democratic influences to bear to induce 
Mr. Cisco temporarily to withdraw his resignation, so 
that he (Field) might take a place in the New York 
office, nominally under Mr. Cisco, but really to prepare 
the way for his own appointment after the adjournment 



376 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

of Congress, and when the defeat of Mr. Lincoln should 
have been indicated by the early fall elections. Mr. 
Cisco unexpectedly complied, and the subject of conten- 
tion was for the moment apparently removed. 

Secretary Chase had many subordinates who regarded 
it as their duty to magnify his office and exalt his name. 
He was firmly of opinion that no one but himself could 
maintain the national credit ; these subordinates assured 
him that such was the prevailing opinion, and it had be- 
come an article of faith in the department. He had no 
doubt whatever that the President had embraced it. 
He believed that his offer of resignation would create a 
general public demand that he should continue at the 
head of the Treasury, and upon a recent occasion the 
President had confirmed his belief in that respect by 
urgently requesting him to change his purpose to re- 
sign. Although there was no adequate occasion for it, 
he thought the present an excellent opportunity to re- 
peat both the resignation and his former experience. 
He, therefore, again tendered his resignation, accompany- 
ing it with an intimation that the failure to nominate 
Mr. Field had rendered his position one of embarrass- 
ment, difficulty, and painful responsibility. 

The resignation was written and forwarded on the 
29th of June. It was not unexpected to President Lin- 
coln, and he dealt with it with wise deliberation. Dur- 
ing the day he requested me to call at the White House 
at the close of business. I found him undisturbed, and 
apparently in a happy frame of mind. 

" I have sent for you," he said, " to ask you a ques- 
tion. How long can the Treasury be 'run' under an 
acting appointment ? Whom can I appoint who will not 
take the opportunity to run the engine off the track, or 
do any other damage ?" 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 377 

I was too much troubled and surprised to answer him 
directly. " Mr. President," I exclaimed, " you will not 
let so small a matter as this New York appointment 
separate yourself and Governor Chase ? Do not, I beg 
of you ! Tell me where the trouble lies, and let me see 
if I cannot arrange it." 

" No ; it is past arrangement," he said. " I feel re- 
lieved since I have settled the question. I would not 
restore what they call the status quo if I could." 

"But," I continued, "think of the country, of the 
Treasury, of the consequences ! I do not for a moment 
excuse the secretary. His nomination of Field was most 
unaccountable to me. But Secretary Chase, with all his 
faults, is a great financier. His administration of the 
Treasury has been a financial wonder. Who can fill his 
place ? There is not a man in the Union who can do it. 
If the national credit goes under, the Union goes with 
it. I repeat it Secretary Chase is to-day a national 
necessity." 

" How mistaken you are !" he quietly observed. " Yet 
it is not strange ; I used to have similar notions. No ! 
If we should all be turned out to-morrow, and could 
come back here in a week, we should find our places 
filled by a lot of fellows doing just as well as we did, 
nnd in many instances better. As the Irishman said, 
In this country one man is as good as another ; and, for 
the matter of that, very often a great deal better.' No ; 
this government does not depend upon, the life of any man," 
he said, impressively. " But you have not answered my 
question. There" pointing to the table "is Chase's 
resignation. I shall write its acceptance as soon as you 
have told me how much time I can take to hunt up an- 
other secretary." 

" The Treasury can be run under an acting appointment 



378 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

two or three days," I answered. " It ought not to be 
run for a day. There is an unwritten law of the depart- 
ment that an acting secretary should do nothing but cur- 
rent business. No one whom you would be likely to 
appoint would consciously violate it." 

" Whom shall I appoint acting secretary ?" he asked. 
" I have thought it would be scarcely proper to name 
one of the assistant secretaries after their chief is out." 

" If you ask my opinion," I replied, " I should advise 
the appointment of the first assistant. I fear the effect 
of this resignation upon the country, and it would be 
unwise to increase its evils by departing from the usual 
course. An intimation from you that nothing but cur- 
rent business should be transacted will certainly be re- 
spected." 

' That seems sensible ; I thank you for the sugges- 
tion," he said. " But I shall have to put on my think- 
ing-cap at once, and find a successor to Chase." 

" "Where is the man ?" I exclaimed. " Mr. President, 
this is worse than another Bull Kun defeat. Pray, let 
me go to Secretary Chase and see if I cannot induce 
him to withdraw his resignation. Its acceptance now 
might cause a financial panic." 

I shall carry the memory of his next words as long as 
I live. Every time I think of them Mr. Lincoln will 
seem to grow greater as a man to be the greatest Amer- 
ican who ever lived. Consider the circumstances. The 
country was in the fiercest throes of civil war ; the Pres- 
ident was weighted with the heaviest responsibilities; 
his Secretary of the Treasury was tendering his resigna- 
tion when there was no good excuse for the act, mani- 
festly to embarrass him and to increase his difficulties. 
Then weigh these words : 

" I will tell you," he said, leaning back in his chair, 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 379 

and carelessly throwing one of his long legs over the 
other, " how it is with Chase. It is the easiest thing in 
the world for a man to fall into a bad habit. Chase has 
fallen into two bad habits. One is that to which I have 
often referred. He thinks he has become indispensable 
to the country ; that his intimate friends know it, and 
he cannot comprehend why the country does not under- 
stand it. He also thinks he ought to be President ; he 
has no doubt whatever about that. It is inconceivable 
to him why people have not found it out; why they 
don't, as one man, rise up and say so. He is, as 
you say, an able financier ; as you think, without say- 
ing so, he is a great statesman, and, at the bottom, a 
patriot. Ordinarily he discharges a public trust, the 
duties of a public office, with great ability with greater 
ability than any man I know. Mind, I say ordinarily, 
for these bad habits seem to have spoiled him. They 
have made him irritable, uncomfortable, so that he is 
never perfectly happy unless he is thoroughly miserable, 
and able to make everybody else just as uncomfortable 
as he is himself. He knows that the nomination of 
Field would displease the Unionists of New York, would 
delight our enemies, and injure our friends. He knows 
that I could not make it without seriously offending the 
strongest supporters of the government in New York, 
and that the nomination would not strengthen him any- 
where or with anybody. Yet he resigns because I will 
not make it. He is either determined to annoy me, or 
that I shall pat him on the shoulder and coax him to 
stay. I don't think I ought to do it. I will not do it. 
I will take him at his word." 

Here he made a long pause. His mobile face wore a 
speaking expression, and indicated that he was thinking 
earnestly; but, with perfect coolness, he continued : "And 



380 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

yet there is not a man in the Union who would make as 
good a chief justice as Chase." There was another pause ; 
his plain, homely face was illuminated as he added," And, 
if I have the opportunity, I will make him Chief Justice 
of the United States." 

I thought at the time, and I have never since changed 
the opinion, that a man who could form such a just esti- 
mate and avow such a purpose in relation to another 
who had just performed a gratuitous act of personal an- 
noyance intended to add to his responsibilities already 
the greatest which any American had ever undertaken 
who seemed wholly incapable of any thought of pun- 
ishment or even reproof, must move upon a higher plane 
and be influenced by loftier motives than any man I had 
before met with. In the entire interview there was not 
an indication of passion or prejudice ; there was a com- 
plete elimination of himself from the situation. There 
was nothing but the impartiality of a just judge, the dis- 
interestedness of a patriot, the stoicism of a philosopher. 
I was silenced, and about to take my leave, when he said : 

"Well, then, I understand I can take three days of 
grace. In that time I shall find somebody who will 
fit the notch and satisfy the nation. Perhaps I shall find 
him to-night. My best thoughts always come in the 
night. As soon as I find him, you shall know. I must 
first write my acceptance of Chase's resignation." 

On the following day, June 30th, the President sent 
the nomination of ex-Governor Tod, of Ohio, as Secre- 
tary of the Treasury to the Senate for confirmation. 
There is no occasion now to inquire after his motives. 
Undoubtedly, his first thought was of an Ohio man, his 
opinion being settled that it was better not to select a 
secretary from any of the Atlantic states. The nomina- 
tion was not well received, and it was a relief to his 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 381 

friends when, during the evening, Mr. Tod, by telegraph, 
peremptorily declined it. 

Before sunrise the next day I was again sent for. I 
rode to the White House in the dawning light of an early 
summer morning, and found the President in his waist- 
coat, trousers, and slippers. He had evidently just left 
his bed, and had not taken time to dress himself. As I 
entered the familiar room, he said, in a cheerful, satisfied 
voice : 

" I have sent for you to let you know that we have 
got a Secretary of the Treasury. If your sleep has been 
disturbed, you have time for a morning nap. You will 
like to meet him when the department opens." 

" I am, indeed, glad to hear it," I said. " But who 
ishe" 

" Oh, you will like the appointment, so will the coun- 
try, so will everybody. It is the best appointment pos- 
sible. Strange that I should have had any doubt about 
it. What have you to say to Mr. Fessenden ?" 

" He would be an eminently proper appointment," I 
answered. " The chairman of the Senate Committee on 
Finance ; perfectly familiar with all our financial legis- 
lation, a strong, able man, and a true friend of the Union. 
He is also next in the direct line of promotion. But he 
will not accept. His health is frail, and his present po- 
sition suits him. There is not one chance in a thousand 
of his acceptance." 

" He will accept ; have no fear on that account. I 
have just notified him of his appointment, and I expect 
him every moment." 

At this moment the door suddenly opened, and Mr. 
Fessenden almost burst into the room, without being 
announced. His thin face was colorless ; there was in- 
tense excitement in his voice and movements. 



382 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

" I cannot ! I will not ! I should be a dead man in a 
week. I am a sick man now. I cannot accept this ap- 
pointment, for which I have no qualifications. You, 
Mr. President, ought not to ask me to do it. Pray re- 
lieve me by saying that you will withdraw it. I repeat, 
I cannot and will not accept it." 

The President rose from his chair, approached Mr. 
Fessenden, and threw his arm around his neck. It may 
seem ludicrous, but, as I saw that long and apparently 
unstiffened limb winding like a cable about the small 
neck of the senator from Maine, I wondered how many 
times the arm would encircle it. His voice was serious 
and emphatic, but without any assumption of solemnity, 
as he said : 

"Fessenden, since I have occupied this plape, ev- 
ery appointment I have made upon my own judgment 
has proved to be a good one. I do not say the best that 
could have been made, but good enough to answer the 
purpose. All the mistakes I have made have been in 
cases where I have permitted my own judgment to be 
overruled by that of others. Last night I saw my way 
clear to appoint you Secretary of the Treasury. I do 
not think you have any right to tell me you will not 
accept the place. I believe that the suppression of the 
rebellion has been decreed by a higher power than any 
represented by us, and that the Almighty is using his 
own means to that end. You are one of them. It is as 
much your duty to accept as it is mine to appoint. Your 
nomination is now on the way from the State Depart- 
ment, and in a few minutes it will be here. It will be 
in the Senate at noon, you will be immediately and unan- 
imously confirmed, and by one o'clock to-day you must 
be signing warrants in the Treasury." 

Mr. Fessenden was intellectually a strong man, one of 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 383 

the last men to surrender his own judgment to the will 
of another, but he made no effort to resist the Presi- 
dent's appeal. He cast his eyes upon the floor, and mur- 
mured, " Well, perhaps I ought to think about it," and 
turned to leave the room. 

" No," said the President, " this matter is settled here 
and now. I am told that it is very necessary that a sec- 
retary should act to-day. You must enter upon your 
duties to-day. I will assure you that, if a change be- 
comes desirable hereafter, I will be ready and willing to 
make it. But, unless I misunderstand the temper of the 
public, your appointment will be so satisfactory that we 
shall have no occasion to deal with any question of 
change for some time to come." 

At this point the conversation terminated, and all the 
persons present separated. The result is well known. 
Mr. Fessenden's appointment was entirely satisfactory, 
and the affairs of the Treasury went on so smoothly that 
no change in the financial policy of Secretary Chase was 
attempted; and from this time until the resignation of 
Mr. Fessenden there was no further friction between the 
Treasury Department and the Executive. 

Chief Justice Taney died in the following October. 
The friends of Secretary Chase immediately put forth 
the strongest effort possible to secure for him an appoint- 
ment to the vacancy. They were assured that no such 
effort was necessary ; that he would receive the appoint- 
ment without asking for it. They would not, and could 
not, accept the assurance. They said that Mr. Chase 
had made some very harsh observations about Mr. Lin- 
coln, which must have come to his knowledge ; that 
nothing would induce him to overlook those remarks, 
unless there was practically a united demand from all 
the leaders of the Kepublican party for the appointment. 



384: RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

I am sincerely grateful that I had at that time so true 
an appreciation of Mr. Lincoln's character that I knew 
that such remarks would make no impression whatever 
upon his mind. I was confirmed in my opinion by the 
information I received of the experience of the friend of 
another candidate who attempted to improve his chances 
by repeating to the President some of these remarks of 
his former secretary. The President at first replied that 
the secretary was probably justified in his observations, 
but when the advocate pressed the point more earnestly, 
he received a reproof from the President which perma- 
nently suppressed further effort in that direction. 

The appointment was made in November, as speedily 
as was appropriate after the vacancy occurred. The only 
direction of the President I ever consciously violated was 
when, after the appointment, I had the satisfaction of 
informing the chief justice that his appointment had 
been decided upon on the 30th of the previous June, 
after which the President had never contemplated any 
other. Not many days afterwards I was shown a copy 
of a letter to the President, written by Mr. Chase, in 
which he expressed his gratitude for the appointment, 
which, he said, he desired more than any other. Thus 
was the entente cordiale restored between these two em- 
inent Americans, never again to be broken or interrupt- 
ed. Among the sorrowing hearts around the dying bed 
of the republic's greatest President, there was none more 
affectionate than that of his chief justice and his first 
Secretary of the Treasury. 



XLIII. 

THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST WASHINGTON IN 1864. THE BATTLE 
OF MONOCACY. 

THE demonstration against the city of "Washington by 
a Confederate army under General Early in July, 1864, 
was one of the important events of the war. It has 
originated so many issues of fact that the search for its 
true history has become obstructed by serious difficul- 
ties. There were reasons at the time why the Federal 
authorities did not wish to magnify the danger with 
which it threatened the capital, and after the retreat 
of his army General Early seems to have been in- 
fluenced by motives acting in the same direction. Since 
the close of the war, the event has caused an extended 
discussion. On one side, the tendency has been to treat 
the fights on the Monocacy and before "Washington as 
lively skirmishes rather than real battles, while General 
Early has persistently denied that the capture of "Wash- 
ington formed any part of the plan of his campaign. 

I was in the Treasury of the United States and had a 
lively interest in the movements of General Early. I saw 
as much as any civilian of the movements of our own forces. 
I witnessed the fighting in front of Fort Stevens, and I 
know whether the terror and consternation existed which 
General Early supposes his so-called feint to have created. 
I think I am able to give pertinent evidence upon sev- 
eral issues which the Confederates have raised. 

In June, 1864, all the available troops in the vicinity 
of "Washington had been sent to General Grant, who 
25 



386 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

was pressing Richmond by the slow and sure processes 
of a siege. A mixed collection of home-guards, conva- 
lescents, and department employes, with a very small 
number of veterans, was left in the defences of Wash- 
ington and Baltimore, which was intended to hold them 
until reinforced from the Army of the Potomac, in case 
either city should be threatened by a Confederate army. 
At Point Lookout, below the capital, on the Maryland 
bank of the river, was a camp of about twenty thousand 
rebel prisoners, all veterans made vigorous by rest and 
Federal rations, who were much wanted by General 
Lee to recruit his army. 

The signal service between the Confederates within 
the city of "Washington and their friends outside the 
defences was perfect. Flags by day, lights and rock- 
ets by night, kept General Lee fully advised of every- 
thing important for him to know. He was as thor- 
oughly informed of the defences of Washington, and 
the number and effectiveness of the forces by which they 
were garrisoned, as General Grant or any officer of the 
Federal army. Grant having undertaken a regular siege 
of Richmond which would occupy much time, General 
Lee represented to President Davis "the great benefit 
that might be drawn from the release of these (rebel) 
prisoners," and his ability to "devote to this purpose 
the whole of the Maryland troops." "I think I can 
maintain our lines against General Grant," he had writ- 
ten, " but I am at a loss where to find a proper leader." 
" Of those connected with this army, I think Colonel 
Bradley Johnson the most suitable." Colonel Johnson 
was a native of Maryland, perfectly familiar with the 
country between the lines of the Baltimore and Ohio, 
and Northern railroads, with Point Lookout, and in fact 
with the entire topography of Maryland. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 387 

It was supposed at the time that General Lee, having 
a full knowledge of the details of the situation, devised 
from his point of view an effective campaign, and that 
he determined to send a third of his army, under Gen- 
eral Early, down the Shenandoah Yalley by forced 
marches, across the Potomac, into Maryland. There a 
division of cavalry, under Colonel Bradley T. Johnson, 
would press on to Point Lookout and release the pris- 
oners, guarded by a few colored soldiers, destroying the 
Baltimore and Ohio and the Northern railroads on his 
way. Early with his army would swoop down upon 
and capture Washington before any troops from the 
Army of the Potomac could reach it. He would clothe 
and arm the prisoners from his captured plunder, and 
with his army thus raised to over forty thousand veter- 
ans inside the defences, he could compel Grant to raise 
the siege of Richmond, and would be able to hold Wash- 
ington against the whole Army of the Potomac. 

We also supposed that this campaign only failed of 
success by a narrow margin. It was thought that of 
his three corps of infantry, General Lee sent the second, 
or Stonewall Jackson's veterans, with forty field-guns, 
a large body of cavalry, and Breckinridge's division of 
infantry, in all not less than twenty-five thousand men, 
under General Early, on the mission. That the latter, 
moving down the valley without resistance or delay, 
crossed the Potomac into Maryland, and on the Tth of 
July was within forty-five miles of Washington ; that 
up to this point all went well with the Confederate 
army. We believed that Early then sent Bradley T. 
Johnson, from his left wing, on the mission to Point 
Lookout ; but the stubborn resistance of General Lew. 
Wallace, and less than six thousand men at the Monoc- 
acy River, cost General Early a loss of over two thou- 



388 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

sand men, and, what was of infinitely greater consequence 
to him, the loss of two days, the 8th and 9th of July, 
after which, abandoning his wounded on the morning 
of the 10th, he moved to Kockville, where he halted 
within a few miles of the defences of Washington. But 
instead of assaulting them on the morning of the llth, 
he postponed the attack until daylight of the 12th, 
when, finding the veterans of the Sixth Corps in the 
trenches, he abandoned the campaign, recalled Johnson on 
his way to Point Lookout, and lost no time in withdraw- 
ing his invading army to the south side of the Potomac. 
It was not until some years after the close of the 
war that the Confederate leaders undertook to correct 
what had been up to that time the general conclusion 
of students of our war history. In 1877, General Long, 
Early's chief of artillery, and later the biographer of 
General Lee, published his account of Early's campaign, 
from which we learn that the capture of Washington 
and the release of the prisoners at Point Lookout were 
not its objectives. " Its object was simply a diversion 
in favor of General Lee's operations about Kichmond," 
and " General Early was too prudent and sagacious to 
attempt an enterprise with a force of eight thousand 
men which, if successful, would be of temporary bene- 
fit." The account also informs us that, " after spread- 
ing dismay for miles in every direction, . . . Early 
proceeded to within cannon-shot of Washington, re- 
mained in observation long enough to give his move- 
ment full time to produce its greatest effect, and then 
withdrew in the face of a large army and recrossed the 
Potomac," thus ending " a campaign remarkable for 
having accomplished more in proportion to the force 
employed, and for having given less public satisfaction, 
than any other campaign of the war." 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 339 

Sixteen years after the war, General Early made pub- 
lic his "version of the facts" of this campaign. His 
article of fifteen printed octavo pages does not once 
mention the prisoners at Point Lookout, and is largely 
devoted to an effort to show that his army was so very 
small, and the Union force opposed to him so very large, 
that, using his words, " an attempt to capture Washing- 
ton at any time after my arrival was simply prepos- 
terous. If I had been able to reach Washington sooner, 
Grant would have sent troops to its rescue sooner, and 
hence there was never any prospect of my capturing 
that city. It was not General Lee's orders or expecta- 
tion that I should take Washington. His order was 
that I should threaten the city, and when I suggested 
to him the probability of my being able to capture it, 
he said that it would be impossible." 

There are several other statements in General Early's 
article which we shall hereafter compare with undis- 
puted facts, and leave others to form their own conclu- 
sions. Enough has been quoted from it to present the 
principal issue. Was the real object of this campaign 
the release of the Confederate prisoners and the capture 
of Washington, or was it merely a scare, a diversion in 
favor of General Lee, restricted both in plan and execu- 
tion to a mere threat against the capital ? 

The strongest witness against the General Early of 
1881 is General Early in 1864. 

On the 14th of July, only two days after his retreat 
from the defences of Washington, General Early, at 
Leesburg, made his first report to General Lee. It was 
before any question had arisen, when all the facts were 
fresh in his mind. In it, after giving his reasons for 
retreating, he says: "He (Johnson) was on his way 
to Point Lookout, when my determination to retire made 



390 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

his recall necessary. . . . I am sorry I did not succeed 
in capturing Washington and releasing our prisoners at 
Point Lookout, but the latter was impracticable after I 
determined to retire from Washington." After this 
statement, it seems a waste of words for General Early 
to deny that the capture of Washington and the release 
of the prisoners were seriously intended, and that they 
were the substantial objects of the campaign. 

The importance of a battle is determined by its ulti- 
mate consequences rather than its immediate results. If 
that fought on the Monocacy did delay General Early, 
so as to save the capital from his assault and probable 
capture, it was one of the decisive battles of the world, 
and, with the events which immediately followed it, de- 
serves a more complete account than it has hitherto re- 
ceived. In his " Personal Memoirs," referring to Early's 
retreat, General Grant says : " There is no telling how 
much this result was contributed to by General Lew. 
Wallace's leading what might well be considered almost 
a forlorn hope. If Early had been but one day earlier, 
he might have entered the capital before the arrival of 
the reinforcements I had sent. Whether the delay caused 
by the battle amounted to a day or not, General Wal- 
lace contributed on this occasion, by the defeat of the 
troops under him, a greater benefit to the cause than 
often falls to the lot of a commander of an equal force 
to render by means of a victory." 

It is singular that the numerical strength of General 
Early's army has never been given. General Early must 
know what it was. He argues at great length to show 
that it was very small ; why does he not give the fig- 
ures ? It was an army of veterans, trained by Stonewall 
Jackson ; it was opposed by raw and undisciplined forces, 
with the single exception of the Sixth Corps. In such a 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 391 

case numbers are a secondary consideration. General 
Geary joined Sherman in Tennessee leading a division 
12,000 strong. On the " march to the sea" its numbers 
were only 3300, and yet in General Geary's opinion the 
effective strength of his division was never greater than 
when it marched into the city of Savannah. As the Con- 
federate leaders, in speaking of the strength of Early's 
army, deal only in the most general statements, and we 
are never to know from them what it was, we are com- 
pelled to rely upon estimates and secondary evidence. 
Where numbers are given on all occasions previous to 
1864, the Second Corps was the largest of the three com- 
prising the Army of Northern Virginia. With its high 
reputation there is no reason for supposing that its 
strength was relatively reduced. In addition to the Sec- 
ond Corps, General Early had Breckinridge's division of 
infantry, forty pieces of artillery, and a body of cavalry 
large enough to serve the purposes of his army, after he 
had detached Johnson with a force deemed sufficient to 
release the prisoners at Point Lookout. 

The information received from General Sigel by Gen- 
eral Wallace was that Early was advancing with an 
army of 30,000 men. After fighting him the whole day 
of the 9th, in part for the purpose of developing his 
force, General Wallace was of opinion that it numbered 
over 18,000, exclusive of Breckinridge's infantry and 
the entire force of artillery and cavalry. Medical In- 
spector Johnson, who was within the Confederate lines 
at Monocacy during the 9th and 10th of July, reported 
that they estimated their strength at 25,000, exclusive 
of a cavalry force of 5000 to 6000. Until the Confeder- 
ate officers, who know, give the details of their own 
forces, no injustice will be done by placing the strength 
of this invading army at 25,000 men. 



392 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

The Monocacy is a crooked river, which runs in a 
southerly direction into the Potomac. About three miles 
west of it is the city of Frederick, and three or four 
miles farther west is a range of hills extending from the 
Potomac in a northerly direction, called the Catoctin 
Mountains. The Washington Pike crossed the river by 
a wooden bridge, and the Baltimore Pike by what was 
called the " stone bridge." The railroad crossed within 
a quarter of a mile of the lower of these two bridges, 
which were about two and a half miles from each other. 

As soon as Wallace learned that a Confederate army 
had entered Maryland, and that its cavalry was approach- 
ing Frederick, he removed his little force so as to delay 
the Confederate advance. He knew that every hour of 
such delay was an hour gained for reinforcements to 
reach Washington from the Army of the Potomac. Ac- 
cordingly, on the 5th of July, he pushed his 2600 men 
out of Baltimore by railroad to the east bank of the 
Monocacy, hoping to hold the bridges against any at- 
tack of cavalry. 

On the 5th of July, General Grant had sent the Third 
Division of the Sixth Corps, under General Kicketts, to 
reinforce General Wallace at Baltimore. When this di- 
vision reached the place of embarkation, on the James, 
Quartermaster General Pitkin, as a favor to his friend 
and fellow- Yermonter, Colonel Henry, of the Tenth Ver- 
mont, gave his detachment, which also comprised the 
One Hundred and Sixth New York, the fastest steamer, 
a favor which also secured to the two regiments severe 
service and hard fighting. The detachment reached Bal- 
timore in advance of the rest of the division, and hurried 
on board a train of freight cars, which arrived at Fred- 
erick at daybreak on the morning of the 8th. 

General Wallace informed Colonel Henry that the 






AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 393 

Confederate signal officers were watching from the Ca- 
toctin hills, behind which Early was gathering his forces 
for an advance, and that his object being delay, he de- 
sired to make a show of as strong a force as possible. 
Colonel Henry, therefore, advanced beyond Frederick to 
the foot of the mountain, where he marched and counter- 
marched from hill to hill, threw up mock breastworks, 
withdrew his men under cover, and marched them to 
other positions, showing his regiment in different places 
until his men, who were not in the secret, thought he 
must have become insane. About six o'clock General 
Wallace was informed that a heavy body of infantry was 
moving in a direction to obtain control of the Washing- 
ton Pike and endanger his lines of retreat. He accord- 
ingly withdrew from Frederick to the line of the Monoc- 
acy Kiver. Before the Tenth Vermont could be withdrawn 
the Confederate cavalry had possession of the pike be- 
tween Frederick and the river, only three miles distant, 
and Colonel Henry was compelled to make a long cir- 
cuit until he reached the stone bridge, and then march 
down the river to the wooden bridge, where he was or- 
dered to report. This march of twelve miles in the 
night so delayed him that it was daybreak before he 
reached his position. 

The second detachment of the Sixth Corps had, in the 
meantime, arrived. The cowardly desertion of the rail- 
road agent and the telegraph operator left the rest of 
the division at Monrovia, eight miles away, where orders 
could not reach them, and they were thus prevented from 
participating in the battle. 

At early dawn General Wallace made his dispositions 
for battle. His right formed an extended line, two miles 
long, from the railroad bridge to the stone bridge, and was 
placed under the command of General Tyler. Colonel 



394 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

Brown, with his command of ten companies from the 
One Hundred and Forty-ninth and One Hundred and 
Fifty-ninth Ohio, and the company of mounted infantry 
under Captain Lieb, was posted at the stone bridge, 
with orders to hold it ; for upon the holding of that 
bridge depended the security of the right flank and the 
line of retreat to Baltimore. The remaining portions 
of General Wallace's original force were posted along 
the river above the railroad. 

On the left, where the principal attack would proba- 
bly be made, were placed the 3350 veterans under Gen- 
eral Kicketts, in a line which reached from the railroad 
to a point below the wooden bridge. The end of the 
line was held by the Tenth Vermont, under Colonel 
Henry, and next to it was its companion regiment on 
many bloody fields, the One Hundred and Sixth New 
York, under Colonel Seward. Colonel Clendenin's cav- 
alry were still farther down the river to watch the 
ford. 

A line of skirmishers, seventy-five men of the Tenth 
Vermont, under Captain Davis, and two hundred men of 
the Potomac Home Brigade, under Captain Brown, ex- 
tended in a semicircle on the west side of the river, be- 
low the wooden to a point above the railroad bridge. It 
should have been under the command of a lieutenant- 
colonel, whose name is not mentioned by Vermonters, 
because on that day he kept away from his command. 
Captain Brown and his men were wholly inexperienced ; 
he surrendered the command to Captain Davis, whose 
men held the centre of the line where it crossed a hill, 
from which the field on the left was in full view. 

The battle opened early. At half-past eight a body 
of Confederates came down the pike, directly upon the 
Federal skirmish line. Captain Davis and his men 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 395 

opened upon them as soon as they came within range, 
and the enemy were handsomely repulsed. 

The Confederates now brought up their artillery, and 
firing and sharp skirmishing began all along the line. 
About half-past ten the first charge of the enemy was 
made. A body of Confederates moved around the left 
flank of the Northern army, forded the river, and ad- 
vanced up the eastern bank, appearing from the woods 
in line of battle. General Eicketts was compelled to 
change front to the left, with his right resting on the 
river, thus bringing his line under an enfilading fire from 
the enemy's artillery. Although he formed his whole 
force into a single line, that of the enemy was so long 
that it overlapped it. Every man on the left was thus 
put into the fight, not one being held in reserve. 

The enemy's first line was met with a heavy fire from 
the Tenth Yermont and the One Hundred and Sixth 
New York. Several times the line was broken, and 
their colors fell. The efforts of the Confederates to 
rally and re-form their line were ineffectual, and they 
were compelled to retreat into the woods, defeated. 
Within an hour the enemy advanced his second line, 
stronger and more numerous than the first, and with 
the steady step and firm bearing of veterans. But they 
could not move the veterans of the Sixth Corps. Par- 
tially protected by the Thomas house and the cut through 
which the road passed, they poured a fire into the Con- 
federate line which nothing human could withstand. For 
a half-hour the line held its position until the ground 
was covered with the fallen, and then again retreated. 

General Wallace and his staff witnessed the battle 
from a hill in the rear of the line opposite the railroad. 
He knew that he was blocking the way of an army which 
must push him aside at any cost, and that the next ad- 



396 RECOLLECTION'S OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

vance would be in force large enough to be irresistible. 
But he was there to stay, to obstruct the Confederate 
advance as long as he possibly could, and the conduct of 
Ricketts's veterans showed him that all that could be 
done by three thousand men they would do. His order 
to retire was not given. 

There was now the hour or two of sharp skirmishing 
and artillery fire which usually precedes a charge. Gen- 
eral Gordon, with his entire division, had crossed at the 
ford, and moved up the river, bringing with him the 
shattered remains of the defeated brigades. About three 
o'clock they again began to emerge from the woods. 
First came a heavy line of skirmishers, followed by a 
first, and shortly by a second, line of battle. For a full 
hour the fight went on, over one of the bloodiest fields 
of the war. The Confederate loss was by far the heav- 
ier, for they were on the open field, while the Sixth Corps 
veterans were in part protected. As the first and sec- 
ond were successively repulsed after stoutly maintaining 
the fierce contest, the third and heaviest Confederate 
line came out of the woods down the hill behind which 
they made their formation. 

General Wallace saw that it was time to go. He gave 
the order to retire on the Baltimore Pike, and the greater 
portion of his left wing slowly obeyed the command. 
But the Tenth Yermont and One Hundred and Sixth 
New York, on the extreme left of the line, were shut off 
from Wallace's view by an intervening hill, and the order 
did not reach them. Several men were sent to them 
with orders, but were all shot down by the fire which 
swept the entire distance to be crossed. The regiments 
were out of ammunition, except as they borrowed it from 
the boxes of the fallen, and there was no ammunition 
train from which they could be supplied. But they 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 397 

stood their ground, fighting and checking the advance 
of the enemy, until their fire slackened, and the advanc- 
ing line had almost encircled them. 

At last a mounted orderly dashed over the hill in their 
rear, galloped within speaking distance of Colonel Henry, 
and shouted, " General Wallace says, ' For God's sake, 
bring your regiment out, if you can, to the Baltimore 
Pike.' " It was a difficult order to obey. In their rear 
was a high board fence, at the foot of a steep hill cov- 
ered by a corn-field. On all the other sides were lines 
of advancing Confederates. The Yermonters scale the 
fence and ascend the hill, swept by screaming shells and 
showers of bullets. Near the top the color-sergeant gives 
out, and declares that he can go no farther. Strong arms 
seize both sergeant and colors, and bear them onward. 
The Confederates, yelling to the Vermonters to halt and 
surrender, follow them half-way up the ascent, but they 
cannot stand the pace, and give up the pursuit. Colonel 
Henry re-forms the remnant of his regiment, safe for the 
time, outside the line of fire. Their comrades of the 
One Hundred and Sixth New York, placed in the line 
on their right, pass around the hill through a tempest 
of missiles hurled upon them from three sides, and those 
who do not fall escape to the rear, where for the time 
we leave them, and turn to the right of the Federal line. 

When the order to retreat is given, the stone bridge 
on the Baltimore Pike becomes all-important, for its loss 
is the loss of Wallace's line of retreat. A large body of 
Confederates are charging down the Pike from the west, 
to hurl themselves against Colonel Brown and his ten 
Ohio companies. General Tyler, without waiting for or- 
ders, gathers up a few men along the river, and rushes 
to Brown's support. The Confederates halt and recoil 
before the hot and heavy fire. General Wallace gallops 



398 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

up, and shouts to Colonel Brown, through the roar of 
musketry, that the bridge " must be held until his last 
regiment has cleared the country road by which the 
army is retreating, and has passed down the Pike tow- 
ards Newmarket and Baltimore." Brown and Tyler, 
with their men, keep the bridge until five o'clock, when 
the rear of the last retiring regiment is well on its way 
down the Pike to Newmarket. By this time the Con- 
federates have surrounded them. By the ordinary rules 
of fighting, they are captured. But the men keep their 
ranks, and, with Colonel Brown, fight their way through 
the encircling line. Then Tyler and his staff dash into 
the woods and escape. 

The army has now all retreated, except the skirmish- 
line on the west bank of the river. These skirmishers 
have had a lively day. Their line of retreat was by the 
wooden bridge, but this was burned about half -past ten, 
and, before it was fired, such of Captain Brown's men 
as were on the left crossed to the east bank. During 
the long day of fighting, nearly all of Captain Brown's 
command on the right of the line quietly passed over 
the railroad bridge without waiting for orders, leaving 
a few of their comrades with Captain Brown and Cap- 
tain Davis, with his seventy -five Vermonters, to hold 
the Pike and do the fighting. Captain Davis, in the 
centre of his line, occupies the crest of a hill, from which 
he sees all the fighting on Ricketts's left. During the 
skirmish which precedes the last attack, he sends a sol- 
dier to his lieutenant -colonel, who should be present for 
orders. The soldier finds him far in the rear, and returns 
with the inspiring message that that officer " supposed 
Captain Davis got off before the bridge was burned." 

Earlier in the day an incident has happened here which 
had a share in the safety of the capital. When General 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 399 

Ricketts changed front on the left, to meet the first Con- 
federate charge, he opened a gap in the line of defence 
opposite the railroad bridge. Wallace has no force which 
he can send to fill it. About eleven o'clock General "Wal- 
lace, from the hill on which he overlooks the field, dis- 
covers a body of Confederates stealing down the river 
under cover of the bushes towards the railroad bridge. 
It is a very exciting time. He has no men to despatch 
to the bridge in a few minutes a stream of the enemy 
will be pouring over the bridge through the gap, which 
will cut his line in the middle, and inevitably cause his 
defeat. The Confederates are perfectly concealed from 
the skirmish-line, and are within a hundred yards of the 
bridge. They are about to make the rush, when a vol- 
ley of musketry seems to rise out of the ground, and is 
poured into their very faces. Many of them fall, others 
reel and hesitate ; another volley is fired into them ; they 
turn and rush to the rear. Davis has had his eye on 
the bridge, for he may have occasion to use it. He has 
anticipated this movement, and sent a small detachment 
from his little force to lie concealed in the bushes and 
watch it. They have watched it to a purpose. 

Late in the afternoon the position of Captain Davis 
becomes (to use his own expression) "peculiar." He 
has seen the colors of his own regiment borne up the 
hill and over it to the rear, followed by the regiment 
and a crowd of pursuing Confederates. As far as he can 
see, the entire Federal line has retired. He was ordered 
to hold the position where he was placed ; it is not the 
custom of his men to change position without orders. 
But the enemy is pouring down the railroad, and in a 
few moments will sweep him into the river. No man of 
his seventy-five will move without an order. The mo- 
ment has come when he has no alternative. He gives 



400 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

the order, his men form, and march on the double-quick 
to the railroad bridge, which has no floor, and across 
which they step from tie to tie. The pursuing Confed- 
erates press after with shouts of " Halt and surrender !" 
They pour their volleys into the backs of the Yermont- 
ers from a distance of fifty yards. The dead and wound- 
ed fall into the water forty feet below, one of the latter 
to survive the battle and the war. The Confederates over- 
take, and actually seize and capture four or five of the 
little company. The survivors reach the eastern bank 
and rush into the bushes. But they keep together, and 
follow the retreating army, leaving more than a third of 
their number upon the bloody field. Davis, who is a 
man of slight physique, has used up all his strength, and 
is marched to the bivouac of his regiment, sound asleep, 
between two stronger soldiers. 

Twelve miles from the field all the detachments of 
the army have come together. They wheel into a con- 
venient field and encamp for the night. Wallace lies 
down upon Henry's blanket, and before both fall asleep 
finds time to tell him that he is " as cool and brave a 
man as ever stood on a battle-field." 

There were no prisoners in this battle except such as 
were captured by the actual laying on of Confederate 
hands. But "Wallace left fully one third of his entire 
force on the field, and the thirty-three hundred and fifty 
veterans lost sixteen hundred of their number. Early 
reported a Confederate loss of only six or seven hundred. 
But there is strong circumstantial evidence that it was 
much heavier. In all the fighting the Union veterans 
were protected by natural defences, while the attacking 
Confederates had to advance for seven hundred yards 
over the open field. More than four hundred, so se- 
verely wounded that Early could not move, but left 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 401 

them behind in Frederick, indicate a greater loss ; and 
a Virginian, with whom Early made his headquarters 
at Leesburgh, declared that the Confederate general told 
him that his loss exceeded three thousand. 

Perhaps no Southern leader could better judge of the 
severity of a battle from personal experience than Gen- 
eral Gordon. In his report, made within two weeks after 
the battle, he said : " I desire to state a fact of which I 
was an eye-witness, and which, for its rare occurrence 
and the evidence it affords of the sanguinary character 
of this struggle, I consider worthy of official mention. 
One portion of the enemy's second (?) line extended along 
a branch, from which he was driven, leaving many dead 
and wounded in the water and upon the banks. This 
position was in turn occupied by a portion of Evans's 
brigade in the attack upon the enemy's third (?) line. So 
profuse was the flow of blood from the killed and wound- 
ed of both these forces that it reddened the stream for 
more than one hundred yards below" 

Although General Early had a heavy force of cavalry, 
he made no attempt to pursue the retreating army of 
General Wallace. His objective point was Washington. 
The fighting had occupied the day. In his report from 
Leesburgh, he wrote that he was " compelled to leave 
about four hundred wounded men in Frederick because 
they could not be transported." He had no lack of trans- 
portation at this time, for he had captured horses and 
wagons enough to supply his army. He left these four 
hundred because they were too severely wounded to en- 
dure transportation, and took with him such as could 
bear the journey. There was no force now to obstruct 
his march. The Washington Pike was open a good 
road through a country teeming with abundance. He 
compelled the small city of Frederick, under threat of 
26 



402 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

the torch, to pay him two hundred thousand dollars in 
good " Northern Federal money," and " brought off over 
one thousand horses." " On the morning of the 10th 
[we use General Early's words], I moved towards Wash- 
ington, taking the route by Rockville, and then turning 
to the left, to get on the Seventh Street Pike. The day 
was very hot, and the roads exceedingly dusty, but we 
marched thirty miles," which must have brought him, 
on the night of Sunday, the 10th of July, within sight 
of the defences of the capital. " On the morning of the 
llth we continued the march, but the day was so exces- 
sively hot, even at a very early hour in the morning, and 
the dust so dense, that many of the men fell by the way, 
and it became necessary to slacken our pace ; neverthe- 
less, when we reached the right of the enemy's fortifica- 
tions, the men were almost completely exhausted, and 
not in condition to make the attack. Skirmishers were 
thrown out, and moved up to the vicinity of the fortifi- 
cations." Here we leave him saying, " I determined at 
first to make an assault" to observe that there were 
good grounds for the general conclusion from his forced 
marches, hot haste, and other indications, that General 
Early was not engaged in a mere theatrical display, but 
that he did seriously intend to attack Washington, and 
that the men who barred his advance for forty -eight 
hours performed a signal service, and earned the en- 
during gratitude of their countrymen, although they 
fought a losing battle on the Monocacy. 






XLIY. 

EARLY BEFORE WASHINGTON IN 1864. BATTLE OF FOET 
STEVENS. 

DURING Saturday and Sunday, July 9th and 10th, the 
Confederate sympathizers in Washington were anxiously 
listening for the sound of Early's guns. They knew his 
purpose, his strength, and the weakness of the city, of 
which he was expected to take possession without much 
resistance. The War Office certainly had all the infor- 
mation that Wallace could give them. It was a part of 
that information that about 25,000 veteran Confederate 
soldiers had passed the Monocacy on the pike leading 
to Washington, that they were marching rapidly in the 
direction of, and on Saturday evening were within thirty- 
five miles of, the capital. Of all this the loyal citizens 
knew nothing. The week closed on Saturday without 
their imagining that the city was in any danger, or that 
any thought for their personal safety was necessary. 
The story of Early's further movements will be given as 
its Washington aspect was presented. 

It is true that for some days the summer atmosphere 
had been full of rumors of Confederate invasion. Every 
few hours a newspaper " extra " was announced. One 
had certain information that the Confederates had en- 
tered Maryland in force that Washington and Balti- 
more were to be cut off from the North and captured 
that the capital would be attacked within twelve hours. 
The next issue declared the rumor to be an idle scare, 
and that the only Confederates north of the Potomac 



404: RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

were a few cavalrymen on a raid. It was the general 
opinion that the authorities would not expose the city 
to any danger, and that any considerable portion of the 
army of Northern Virginia would not be detached and 
sent on an expedition northward without the knowledge 
of General Grant. If he knew that such an expedition 
had been undertaken, he could certainly have sent a force 
to protect the capital against it. It was the third year of 
the war. In 1861 such reports w T ould have disturbed us. 
Now, citizens had become in a measure rumor-proof, 
and went about their business as coolly as if there had 
not been a Confederate within a week's march of the 
city. 

I had closed my house, and my family were living with 
me at Willard's for a few days before sending them to 
New England to pass the season of oppressive heat. 
On the morning of Monday, the llth of July, we were 
taking a late breakfast. The morning papers had ac- 
counts of a skirmish, two days before, on the Monocacy, 
above Baltimore. They all agreed that it was only a 
skirmish, with no very important consequences. But 
the details appeared to indicate that several thousand 
men had been engaged, and that General Wallace had 
been severely handled. 

Three army officers breakfasted with us ; two of them 
were on their way to the front. They ridiculed the sug- 
gestion that any considerable force had been detached 
from Lee's army and sent northward without the knowl- 
edge of General Grant. If he knew it, he had acted ac- 
cordingly. The rebels had quite enough to do in the 
vicinity of Richmond. Washington, they said, was in 
no more danger than Boston. I was inclined to the 
same opinion. So much had been said about the im- 
portance of protecting Washington, so many veteran 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION". 4Q5 

regiments had been detained there when they were 
needed in the field, that it seemed impossible that the 
city should now be exposed to danger. 

The third officer was the brigadier in command of the 
Invalid Corps, who had taken but little part in the con- 
versation, and expressed no opinion. As we were about 
to separate, he observed to me that he was going to visit 
the outposts, that the morning was pleasant, and if I had 
nothing better to do, perhaps I would like to join his 
party. If so, he would have a horse ready for me at his 
quarters on Fifteenth Street opposite the Treasury at 
ten o'clock, at which hour he intended to start. I cor- 
dially accepted his invitation, and reported at his quar- 
ters at the appointed time. 

The first part of this excursion was delightful. 
Mounted on spirited animals, preceded by a small es- 
cort of cavalry, we took the road towards Georgetown. 
The air was fresh and cool, the roses and flowering 
plants loaded the reviving breeze with their perfume, 
and the birds were singing in the trees which shaded 
the broad avenue, which was as quiet as I had ever seen 
it on the Sabbath. Bright-eyed children at play, ladies 
taking their morning walk, and all the other indications 
of summer life in the city, suggested thoughts of rest- 
ful peace, which for the moment divested the mind of 
all remembrance of the miseries and anxieties of war. 

We rode over the venerable pavements of George- 
town to its outskirts, now ascending a slight hill, now 
going down into a wooded valley, bathing our horses 
feet in the clear brooks which we forded. We passed 
through Tenallytown and out a short distance on the 
road beyond. On the summit of the highest ridge there- 
abouts we were halted by a picket-guard of a dozen 
men. The necessary words and salutes passed, the offi- 



406 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

cer in command appeared and entered into conversation 
with our brigadier. To the latter's question whether 
this was the last picket, the officer gave an affirmative 
reply. 

Sweeping the northern horizon, my eyes rested on the 
broad cleared hillside across the valley. It appeared to 
be the camp of an army. There were army- wagons, 
pieces of artillery, caissons, unharnessed horses, tethered 
near by, a few shelter tents, and all the paraphernalia 
of a camp in which the men were at rest. I could not 
clearly make out any of the flags. Very little calcula- 
tion was necessary to show that the men numbered some 
thousands. 

" Whose corps is that, general ?" I asked, pointing in 
the direction of the camp. 

" "We think it is Early's, but do not certainly know. 
It may be Breckinridge's," he answered. 

"Great heavens!" I exclaimed. "Do you mean to 
say that those are Confederates !" 

" There is no possible doubt of that," he replied. " If 
you doubt it, you can satisfy yourself by riding down to 
their picket at the bottom of the valley. I am not sure 
that you will be permitted to return. I am going to 
show you another and a larger camp, if we can get with- 
in sight of the Blair mansion at Silver Springs." 

" Thanks," I said, " I am not at all curious. General, 
I must ask you to excuse me for leaving you so uncere- 
moniously. It has just occurred to me that I have a 
most important engagement at Willard's at this hour. 
I must keep it. I do not care to take a look at Silver 
Springs. Yonder view satisfies me, fully." 

" I thought it would," he observed. " I saw that you 
did not comprehend the situation, and therefore invited 
you to ride out here and judge for yourself. I would 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 4Q7 

like to have you make the circuit on the north side of 
the city. But that will take time, and I shall very prob- 
ably find some of the roads obstructed. I can guess 
your appointment at Willard's. This may yet be a good 
day to send your family north if they can get there ? 
Yesterday would have been better." 

" They would have gone three days ago if I had had 
any suspicion of that," I said, indicating the Confederate 
camp. " But tell me, what is your estimate of the Con- 
federate force now before the city ?" 

" For some reason the War Office does not care to 
have that subject discussed. At daylight this morning 
I had reports from three independent sources. They 
agree substantially that Early has Ewell's old corps 
entire, and a part of another, numbering over 20,000 
infantry, and forty guns, with about 6000 cavalry. 
The infantry and guns were counted by a scout before 
they left Maryland Heights. "Wallace developed their 
force at Monocacy. He estimated it at over 20,000, be- 
sides the cavalry. One squadron under Bradley T. John- 
son has gone around Baltimore to strike the railroads 
on the north. McCausland's and Rosser's cavalry are 
roaming over the country between this city and Baltimore. 
They can take the railroad any time they choose." 

" Then the city is in great danger!" I said. "What 
good can come of concealing it ?" 

" There is but one way that it can be saved," he re- 
sponded. " Grant must have sent men by steamer. The 
only question is whether they will arrive in time. I 
supposed Early would have attacked this morning. He 
is at Silver Springs now. We think he must have had 
a hard battle with Wallace day before yesterday, and is 
giving his men a rest. He will certainly attack to-night 
or to-morrow morning." 



408 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

It was time for me to leave ; I stood not on the order 
of my going. I did not draw rein until I reached the 
Treasury, whence I returned the tired horse to its quar- 
ters by a messenger. 

The report at the close of business on Saturday lay on 
my office table. A glance at it showed me that every 
note and bond in the office had been sent to its destina- 
tion by the mail of Saturday evening. I closed the door 
of my room again and started to leave the building. On 
my way out I called at the treasurer's office, which a 
man was just entering with a package of empty canvas 
mail-sacks. I found General Spinner, the treasurer, Mr. 
Tuttle, his cashier, and three or four of his principal 
clerks, engaged in filling mail sacks with Treasury notes 
and other securities. All were working with great ear- 
nestness and expedition. 

"You are busy, general!" I observed. "I have just 
seen what convinces me that you are not wasting your 
time, that you are engaged in a work of necessity." 

" I have not time to be angry !" he exclaimed. " Did 
the authorities give you any notice of our danger?" 

"None whatever," I answered. "I have only this 
moment discovered it for myself." 

" Nor did they to me. I have a small steamboat no 
matter where. I can take any bonds or money you may 
have. I think it better to move in light-marching or- 
der, and to carry nothing but money or securities if 
we decide to move !" 

" Thank you, I have nothing of that description. I 
shall try and move my household by rail. I shall stay 
myself, and take whatever comes." 

At the hotel our effects were literally dumped into our 
trunks by my direction, and my family prepared for in- 
stant movement. At the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 4Q9 

station, I learned that a train, just arrived, reported the 
road uninterrupted. Another train would leave for 
Philadelphia within an hour. "Within less than two 
hours from my first view of the Confederate force we 
were all, together with two friends to whom I oifered 
the opportunity, speeding northward at the rate of forty 
miles an hour. At Baltimore I left the rest of the party, 
having first written a despatch in cipher, which they 
were to send me if they reached Philadelphia. In due 
time I received it at the Fountain Hotel and knew they 
were out of harm's way. 

This was the last train that passed over the railroad 
northward until the burned bridges were rebuilt after 
Early's retreat. The next train that left Washington 
was looted by Harry Gilmor's detachment of Johnson's 
cavalry. He had been a conductor on the railroad, and 
knew where to strike it. Upon this train were General 
Franklin, General D. W. C. Clarke, Executive Secretary 
of the Senate, with his family, and other prominent per- 
sons. Their trunks were rifled, and everything of value 
taken or destroyed. General Franklin adroitly escaped 
from the Confederates the same day of his capture. 

During that evening I learned more about the fight 
on the Monocacy. There were wounded men at the 
station, and among them I found some Vermonters. 
They said that their regiment (the Tenth Vermont) had 
had some heavy fighting had been compelled to re- 
treat by sheer force of numbers, and was then at the 
Relay House, on the road to "Washington. They could 
form no idea of the enemy's force except that it was 
very large, and as they were not pursued and the princi- 
pal fight was in defence of the pike to Washington, they 
inferred that the Confederates were on the road to that 
city. 



410 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

I called upon some acquaintances and spent the even- 
ing in walking about the city. I saw no evidences of 
" dismay or consternation." No one was fleeing north- 
ward. The train on which my family went received no 
rush of passengers, as would have been quite natural. 
But I did see many evidences of preparation and stern 
determination to fight and defend the city. The street 
windows of stores and dwellings were barred and being 
made secure. It was reported that General "Wallace had 
returned to the city, that he was organizing and arm- 
ing the volunteers for its defence, Who were presenting 
themselves in great numbers. 

Towards midnight I went to the Fountain Hotel, but 
not to sleep. The danger to the capital of the nation 
was too imminent ; and at dawn I arose, went to the 
crowded station, and took the first train for "Washing- 
ton. I was the only passenger. At the way stations 
and road crossings the mounted Confederates were 
numerous, but as we were running into the city, which 
they regarded as already virtually in their hands, we 
were not molested. 

At the depot in "Washington a surprise awaited me. 
From the direction of the intersection of Pennsylvania 
Avenue and Seventh Street came the sound of enthu- 
siastic cheering. I should not have been more surprised 
by an outburst of cheers from a funeral procession. 

"What does this cheering mean?" I asked of the first 
colored cab driver I encountered. 

" I reckon it's Gen'l Sedgwick's ole army, massa !" he 
replied. " Dey'se goin' out to hab a little talk with 
Gen'l Early dis mo'nin'. I reckon Gen'l Early can't 
wait for 'em. He's done gone souf, I reckon." 

I made my way to Seventh Street and partially 
through the crowd. There was no mistake. Those 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 

sturdy veterans were marching with furled banners, to 
the beat of a single drum at the head of each regiment. 
Standing on the top of my carriage, I not only recog- 
nized the cross of the Sixth Corps, but also the faces of 
a lot of Vermonters. It was gratifying to see the citi- 
zens rushing into the ranks, as they rested on their arms, 
with baskets of eatables, buckets of water, and a hearty 
welcome to their deliverers. A Yermonter assured me 
that a large portion of the Sixth Corps was already at the 
front, and a part of the Nineteenth Corps, just returned 
from New Orleans, was to follow them. They marched 
with swinging stride out on Seventh Street, and with a 
lighter heart I made my way to the Treasury. 

The arrival of the Sixth Corps removed our anxiety 
for the safety of the capital. Even the Confederates 
regarded these redoubtable veterans as invincible. Still, 
I hoped that Early would not retire without a battle, 
which, if possible, I intended to see. Directing the clerks 
in my office to make everything snug, I gave them the 
rest of the day for a vacation, and ordered my horses 
and light wagon to be at the Treasury promptly at one 
o'clock. I sent to Secretary Stanton for a pass to the 
front, which he accorded me, with, however, an earnest 
warning not to use it, as a heavy battle now seemed 
imminent on the north side of the city. 

As I hope to give not only the first, but an accurate 
account of the battle of Fort Stevens, a sketch of the 
topography of the locality seems necessary. The ex- 
tensions of Seventh Street and Fourteenth Street united 
in a single highway about three miles north of the city 
limits, which, after crossing two ranges of hills, extended 
still northward, passing the residence of the elder Blair 
at Silver Springs. On the crest of the first of these 
ranges, about one hundred yards west of the road, was 



412 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

Fort Stevens, with Fort Reno about the same distance 
east of the highway. There were other forts in close 
proximity. Beyond these forts the road descended into 
a valley, where, about a third of a mile from the forts, 
were farm-houses with their outbuildings, around which 
the land was under cultivation. Passing these, the road 
ascended the opposite slope for a half-mile or more, and 
then crossed the second range of hills. This slope for 
about a mile on either side of the highway had been 
cleared, but was now covered with a thick growth of 
bushes. Farther on the right and left of the road the 
hillside and valley were broken by wooded ravines. The 
two forts had just been connected by a trench, the earth 
from which had been thrown up on the outside into a 
breastwork, which crossed and effectually obstructed the 
highway. 

I invited Edward Jordan, Solicitor of the Treasury, 
and H. C. Fahnestock, of the banking-house of Jay Cooke 
& Co., to drive out to the front with me. The road 
was crowded with soldiers. They had passed scores 
of rum-shops, but not a man was intoxicated, and they 
made way for us to pass, with some good-natured badi- 
nage about " home-guards," and going into battle with 
a " pair of horses and a Concord wagon." On the last 
rise to the forts, the road was unobstructed, and the 
horses carried our light wagon up to the trench at a 
lively pace. The trench was well filled with men of the 
Sixth Corps, most of them lying down and taking mat- 
ters very coolly. A tall, angular captain came out as 
we approached, slowly walked around and surveyed 
my team, then placing one foot on the hub of the 
fore wheel of the wagon, in the broadest Yankee dialect 
observed, 

" Got a good pair of hosses there, judge. Them's 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 413 

Morgan bosses. You don't often see 'era gray. They 
are most always bay." 

" I do think they are a pretty good team," I said, 
pleased with his commendation. 

" Naow, I wouldn't wonder if them hosses might be 
wuth a couple of hundred apiece that is, if they was 
sound and kind, and hadn't no tricks about 'em." 

" They cost more than that I consider them worth 
three or four times the sum you name," I said. 

" No ? Yew don't say so !" he exclaimed. " "Wall ! I 
don't know but they be. Hosses that is, good hosses 
well-matched and good steppers, is hard to git." He 
seemed to be pondering the subject, again walked around 
them, looked them over, and continued with the same 
deliberation : 

"Judge, if I owned a good pair of gray Morgan 
hosses, sound and kind and good steppers, wuth, say, 
twelve or fifteen hundred dollars, I wouldn't let 'em 
stand right there, not very long ! Because a hoss was 
shot plumb dead right there not a half-hour ago." 

To turn the team around and move from that exposed 
elevation was the work of a moment. I had not the 
slightest idea that we were under fire. The captain 
had been so entertaining that I had not looked over the 
earthwork. Now, looking down into the valley, though 
not a rebel was visible, I saw from the bushes and behind 
the logs frequent little jets of white smoke spurt out in 
a vicious manner ; and in spite of the opposing wind I 
could now hear the crack of rifles, and the buzzing 
sound over our heads, dying away in the distance, I 
knew was the ping of minie bullets. The captain fol- 
lowed us. He called a colored man out of the ditch, 
told him to take my team to a place he indicated, and 
look after them until I returned, and he, possibly, might 



414 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

earn a quarter. Upon my expressing some surprise, he 
said: 

" Oh, I know them hosses, judge. You bought 'em 
of William Drew, at the Burlington Fair ! And I know 
you too, judge. I've heerd you in the old Court House 
in Middlebury, lots of times. Don't you remember the 
* Cornwall Finish ' Merino Case ? I was on that jury. 
I am - , of Starksboro'. That darkey is all right. 
He has froze to me. He'll take good care of the team." 

" But you may be called into action !" I said. 

" No such luck as that !" he replied. " Early is pull- 
ing foot for Virginia. These fellows are his rear guard. 
He didn't count on meeting the Old Sixth. He found 
we had come, and soon after he left. I wish Wright 
would let us go in. We'd get a sight of his coat-tails, 
if we didn't overhaul him." 

I recognized the captain as an Addison County farmer. 
My friends left me here, and it was hours before I saw 
them again. The darkey drove my wagon into a ravine 
in the rear of a building used as a hospital, and I re- 
turned to the ditch. I was crawling up to look over the 
earthwork, when the captain called me down. " That 
won't do !" he said. " There's too much lead up there ! 
You'd better watch the boys, and do as they do." 

He took me to a place where a large stick of square 
timber lay on top of the earth- work, raised a little above 
it, thus leaving a space through which the whole region 
beyond was visible. " You'll be safe there, if you don't 
forget and raise your head too high," he said ; then left 
me and returned to his company. 

I lay there and watched the movements of the Con- 
federates for half an hour. They were all under cover, 
and nothing could be seen of them but the smoke from 
their guns. In the early morning, when they had in- 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 415 

tended to storm the forts, they had occupied the oppo- 
site hill, and had filled the clusters of buildings of which 
I have spoken. There had been a sharp-shooter behind 
every stump and log and boulder, up to within a hun- 
dred yards of our lines. From all these places they 
were firing at every man exposed on our side. The 
captain said that before the Sixth Corps came their fire 
had been effective, and the loss on our side heavy. 

I was interested in watching our own men. Only a 
few of them were firing, and after each shot they 
dropped back into the ditch to reload their rifles. One 
of them had a target-rifle which would weigh thirty 
pounds, and a field-glass. How he contrived to bring 
such a piece of heavy artillery into action, I do not know. 
He was as deliberate as if firing at a mark. After one 
discharge he continued looking through his glass for a 
long time. He then dropped back into the ditch and 
quietly remarked, " I winged him that time !" He pointed 
to a fallen tree, behind which, he said, a particularly 
dexterous sharp-shooter had been firing all the morning, 
killing two men and wounding others. He had borrowed 
the target-rifle to stop him, and thought he had done it, 
" for he didn't show up any more !" 

Leaving the ditch, my pass carried me into the fort, 
where, to my surprise, I found the President, Secretary 
Stanton, and other civilians. A young colonel of artil- 
lery, who appeared to be the officer of the day, was in 
great distress because the President would expose him- 
self, and paid little attention to his warnings. He was 
satisfied the Confederates had recognized him, for they 
were firing at him very hotly, and a soldier near him 
had just fallen with a broken thigh. He asked my ad- 
vice, for he said the President was in great danger. 

"What would you do with me under like circum- 
stances ?" I asked. 



416 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

" I would civilly ask you to take a position where you 
were not exposed." 

" And if I refused to obey ?" 

" I would send a sergeant and a file of men, and make 
you obey." 

" Then treat the President just as you would me or 
any civilian." 

" I dare not. He is my superior officer ; I have taken 
an oath to obey his orders." 

"He has given you no orders. Follow my advice, 
and you will not regret it." 

" I will," he said. " I may as well die for one thing 
as another. If he were shot, I should hold myself re- 
sponsible." 

He walked to where the President was looking over 
the parapet. " Mr. President," he said, " you are stand- 
ing within range of five hundred rebel rifles. Please 
come down to a safer place. If you do not, it will be 
my duty to call a file of men, and make you." 

" And you would do quite right, my boy !" said the 
President, coming down at once. " You are in command 
of this fort. I should be the last man to set an example 
of disobedience !" 

He was shown to a place where the view was less 
extended, but where there was almost no exposure. 

It was three o'clock. General D. D. Bidwell's brig- 
ade of five veteran regiments now marched through Fort 
Stevens out upon the open space in front, where they 
were extended into two lines, threw out skirmishers, and 
then all lay flat upon the ground. The Confederate fire 
was so hot that in the little time required for this ma- 
noeuvre one third of the men of this brigade were 
killed or wounded. I had supposed that a battle- 
field was filled with the shrieks and groans of the 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 417 

wounded and the dying. There was nothing of the 
kind, scarcely a spasmodic action, and in the majority 
of cases those who had been struck by the enemy's 
balls seemed rather to be lying quietly down. These 
veterans, under this heavy fire, went about their work 
as coolly as though on parade. 

There was a flag raised, and thirty guns from four 
forts opened fire at the same instant. Six guns from 
Fort Stevens simultaneously hurled their shells against 
the clusters of buildings in the valley. "We heard the 
shells strike, and saw them explode, throwing up a mass 
of dust and lime. A body of Sixth Corps men came out 
from the rear of the fort and poured their fire at short 
range into the crowd of rebels that rushed from the 
buildings like bees from a hive, across the open space 
to the bushes. In less time than is required to write 
the fact, there was a winrow of fallen men heaped en- 
tirely across this space. Now thick and fast the shells 
dropped into the bushes on the hillside. Hurrying 
crowds of Confederates rushed from either side into 
the highway and packed it full. Into these living 
masses the artillerymen now directed their galling fire. 
They had just returned into a fort which they had pre- 
viously garrisoned for a year, and knew the range of 
every tree and object. One could follow the course of 
the shells by their burning fuses. They rose in long, 
graceful curves, screaming like demons of the pit, then 
descending with like curves into the crowds of running 
men, they appeared to explode as they touched the 
ground. The men swayed outward with the explosion, 
but many fell, and did not rise again. After the retreat 
of the last Confederates, the bodies lay so near each 
other that they almost touched. It was beautiful artil- 
lery work, but its results were horrible. 
27 



418 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

The shelling ceased. Instantly, the brigade lying 
on the ground was up and away. Over fences and 
other obstructions, dashing through the bushes, here 
and there halting a moment to re-form their broken 
lines, they went over the hillside, clearing away every 
Confederate, until they reached the summit of the ridge, 
where were buildings in which many of the enemy were 
captured. They then halted and formed in line of bat- 
tle at right angles to the highway. 

Every Confederate not captured, killed, or wounded, 
had now retreated over the hill, out of our view. I sup- 
posed the battle was over, when one of the officers stand- 
ing near me exclaimed, "There they come!" and a 
squadron of cavalry, appearing over the crest of the hill, 
charged upon what seemed to be our doomed line of 
battle. They were dashing onward to the sound of the 
famous rebel yell. It looked as though that rushing 
mass of men and horses would brush away that thinned 
line of men like the dew. But now the jets of smoke 
darted from them in rapid succession, and riderless horses 
dashed out from the cavalry. Slower and slower still 
became its advance, more frequent were the jets of smoke 
from the line of infantry, until the horsemen came to 
an actual halt, seemed to quiver for a moment, then 
wheeled and disappeared over the hill to be seen no 
more. Again had a charge of cavalry been resisted and 
defeated by infantry in line of battle, and the last armed 
rebel who was ever to look upon the figure of liberty 
on the dome of the Capitol had disappeared forever. 

The fighting was over, but the experiences of the day 
were not yet ended. I went back to my horses, found 
them well cared for, and then went on to the field of bat- 
tle. Men with stretchers were already carrying off the 
wounded and collecting the dead. A few yards beyond 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 419 

our works I met two men. One, tall and powerful, 
was leaning heavily upon the other, a boy who was car- 
rying the guns of both. The former asked me if I knew 
where the field-hospital was? After directing him to 
it I inquired where he was hurt. He replied by open- 
ing his shirt and exposing the path of a minie-bullet 
directly through his chest. I took his name, and after- 
wards traced him, found that he recovered, and was, 
when last heard from, a healthy man. His surgeon 
said that the wound was received during the exhalation 
of the air from his lungs. Had the ball entered the 
lungs during inhalation, the wound must have been fatal. 

The buildings in the valley, which had been fired by 
the shells, burned very slowly, and were only now fully 
aflame. On all the floors, on the roofs, in the yards, 
within reach of the heat, were many bodies of the dead 
or dying, who could not move, and had been left behind 
by their comrades. The odor of burning flesh filled the 
air ; it was a sickening spectacle ! 

Near a large fallen tree lay one in the uniform of an 
officer. His sword was by his side, but his hand grasped 
a rifle. What could have sent an officer here to act as 
a sharp-shooter ? I placed my hand on his chest to de- 
tect any sign of life. It encountered a metallic sub- 
stance. I opened his clothing, and took from beneath 
it a shield of boiler-iron, moulded to fit the anterior por- 
tion of his body, and fastened at the back by straps and 
buckles. Trusting to this protection, he had gone out 
that morning gunning for Yankees. In the language of 
a quaint epitaph in Vernon, Vt., upon one who died from 
vaccination, 

" The means employed his life to save, 
Hurried him headlong to the grave I" 

Directly over his heart, through the shield and through 



420 RECOLLECTIONS OP PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

his body, was a hole large enough to permit the escape 
of a score of human lives. 

I had not forgotten the sharp-shooter "winged" by 
the target-rifle. There, behind the log, he lay, on his 
back, his open eyes gazing upwards, with a peaceful ex- 
pression on his rugged face. In the middle of his fore- 
head was the small wound which had ended his career. 
A single crimson line led from it, along his face, to where 
the blood dropped upon the ground. A minie-rifle, dis- 
charged, was grasped in his right hand ; a box, with a 
single remaining cartridge, was fast to his side. The 
rifle and cartridge-box were of English make, and the 
only things about him which did not indicate extreme 
destitution. His feet, wrapped in rags, had coarse shoes 
upon them, so worn and full of holes that they were only 
held together by many pieces of thick twine. Ragged 
trousers, a jacket, and a shirt of what used to be called 
" tow-cloth," a straw hat, which had lost a large portion 
of both crown and rim, completed his attire. His hair 
was a mat of dust and grime ; his face and body were 
thickly coated with dust and dirt, which gave him the 
color of the red Virginia clay. 

A haversack hung from his shoulder. Its contents 
were a jack-knife, a plug of twisted tobacco, a tin cup, 
and about two quarts of coarsely cracked corn, with, 
perhaps, an ounce of salt, tied in a rag. My notes, made 
the next day, say that this corn had been ground upon 
the cob, making the provender which the Western farmer 
feeds to his cattle. This was a complete inventory of the 
belongings of one Confederate soldier. 

How long he had been defending Richmond I do not 
know. But it was apparent that he, with Early 's army, 
during the past six weeks had entered the valley at 
Staunton, and had marched more than three hundred 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 421 

miles, ready to fight every day, until now, when in the 
front, he was acting as a sharp-shooter before Washing- 
ton. He was evidently from the poorest class of South- 
ern whites. I detached his haversack and its contents 
from his body and carried them away. 

I noticed many of the Confederate dead who were 
clothed in blue, and had it not been for the hats, which 
were of many shapes and sizes, they would have closely 
resembled our own men. Where the brigade had formed 
which afterwards charged the Confederates and drove 
them over the hill, there were many Federal dead. It 
was subsequently reported that our loss here exceeded 
two hundred and fifty. The time could not have been 
longer than ten minutes before they were all lying flat 
on the ground. 

It was after nightfall when we started to return to 
the city. The soldiers on their way to the front, having 
been notified that the fight was ended, had bivouacked 
in the fields, and left the road clear, so that we made 
rapid progress. On our left, a single heavy gun from a 
fort at intervals sent a shell, with a screaming rush, in 
the direction of the retreating Confederates, like some 
wild animal growling his anger at the escape of his 
prey. It was the last gun of the attack upon "Washing- 
ton. We carried the news of the retreat of the Confed- 
erates to the city, and that night its inhabitants slept 
soundly, free from alarm or anxiety. 

In order to show the disparity between his own and 
the Union forces on the 12th of July, General Early has 
made a singular combination of figures. It is said that 
figures never lie, but sometimes they come closer to a 
false impression than the Confederate general did to the 
capture of Washington. Although such was not the 
fact, let it be assumed, as he claims, that within the cir- 



422 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

cle of the defences of the capital there were about 20,000 
men quartermasters ; laborers, who had never had a 
gun in their hands; district militia, of doubtful alle- 
giance ; department clerks, and soldiers only half cured 
of their wounds. No one then familiar with the state 
of affairs in Washiagton will doubt that the condition 
and forces of the defences were accurately known to 
General Lee. It was upon that knowledge that Early's 
campaign was projected and executed; that he came 
before the city ; that he had disposed his forces ; that 
he had ordered the assault at dawn on Tuesday morn- 
ing. We must believe this, for General Early so wrote 
down the facts only two days afterwards. Of what 
avail, then, to take the census of males in the city? 
General Early intended to strike the capital before 
Grant could reinforce it, and to that end he had made 
a march of almost incredible swiftness and severity. 
When he ordered the assault, he believed he had reached 
Washington with its situation unchanged, and so had 
accomplished his object. Such facts cannot be refuted. 
They establish the ultimate fact by circumstantial proof, 
which is declared by the common law to be more satis- 
factory than the positive evidence of witnesses, who may 
be mistaken, while circumstances are always consistent 
with each other. It must therefore be accepted as a fact 
of history that the capture of Washington and the re- 
lease of the Confederate prisoners at Point Lookout were 
the objectives of Early's campaign. 

Nor is the exact hour of his arrival before Washington 
any more important. At Frederick he was only thirty- 
five miles from the capital. In his report of July 14th 
he says, " On the morning of the 10th, I moved towards 
Washington, taking the route via Rockville, and then 
turning to the left to get on the Seventh Street Pike. 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 423 

The day was very hot, and the roads exceedingly dusty, 
but we marched thirty miles." He passed the night of 
the 10th within five miles of Washington. Presump- 
tively, he could have attacked next morning, when a 
considerable portion of his force was at Silver Spring 
and above Georgetown, within two miles of the defences. 
His own statement of the positions of his force on the 
llth is very indefinite. The first detachment of the Sixth 
Corps did not reach the defences until after four in the 
afternoon. Had he made the attack on the morning of 
the llth, he would have found the city in the condition 
supposed by General Lee when the campaign was pro- 
jected. The Confederate army would have met with 
no resistance except from raw and undisciplined forces, 
which, in the opinion of General Grant, and it was sup- 
posed of General Lee also, would have been altogether 
inadequate to its defence. Its capture and possession for 
a day would have been disastrous to the cause of the 
Union. Early would have seized the money in the 
Treasury, the archives of the departments, the immense 
supplies of clothing, arms, and ammunition in store ; he 
would have compelled General Grant to raise the siege 
of Richmond ; he would have destroyed uncounted mill- 
ions in value of property, and he would have had the 
same opportunity to retreat of which he availed himself 
next day. 

But with his veterans behind the defences, he would 
have had no occasion to retreat. The released prisoners 
at Point Lookout in two days would have added 20,000 
to the strength of his army. The Confederates of Mary- 
land would have swarmed to his assistance, and he could 
certainly have held the capital long enough to give Great 
Britain the excuse she so much desired, to recognize the 
Confederacy and break the blockade. After the danger 



424 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

had passed, when its magnitude became apparent, there 
was but one opinion among the friends of the Union. 
It was that we had escaped a loss of prestige and prop- 
erty, compared with which previous disasters would have 
been trifling, and probably a blow fatally destructive to 
the Union cause. 

And there is another record which will be held in 
honor so long as and wherever courage is held to be a 
virtue among men. It is the page which is filled with 
the story of Monocacy, where the streams ran blood, in- 
experienced men fought like veterans, and veterans like 
the legionaries of Caesar. When the children of the re- 
public are asked what it was that brought Early 's cam- 
paign to naught and saved the capital, let them be taught 
to answer, " General Wallace and his command at the 
battle of Monocacy, and the arrival of the Sixth Corps 
within the defences of the capital." 

As promised, I proceed to compare other statements 
of General Early with facts which no one has ever ques- 
tioned. Possibly they may have a bearing upon the 
credibility of other statements of his which are contro- 
verted. In his report of July 14th, after stating that he 
had " moved his force up to the vicinity of the fortifica- 
tions" (of the capital), he says : " Late in the afternoon 
of the 12th, the enemy advanced in line of battle against 
my skirmishers (of Rode's division), and the latter being 
reinforced, repulsed the enemy three times" 

No other account of the proceedings of that day makes 
any mention of any repulse of Federal troops, nor of any 
advance by them " in line of battle." In his article pub- 
lished long after the war, General Early referred to this 
advance as an affair which occurred late in the after- 
noon of the 12th, between some troops sent out from the 
works and " a portion of the troops in my front line." 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 425 

General Long has omitted all mention of such an event. 
The account which I have given of the fighting before 
the works on that afternoon could be confirmed by two 
thousand witnesses. The only line of battle that after- 
noon was formed by Bidwell's brigade, after they had 
charged over the valley and up to the crest of the hill, 
opposite the fort, and driven every Confederate over the 
hill and out of sight of "Washington. And this brigade 
was not repulsed ; on the contrary, it went up the hill at 
a speed scarcely outstripped by the pursued Confederates. 
On the top of the hill these veterans did form in line of 
battle, and were charged upon by the Confederate cavalry. 
But it was the cavalry, and not the Union force, which 
was repulsed and retreated. If the subject were open to 
argument, it might be asked for what possible purpose 
a force, attacked when it was behind breastworks, went 
out to form a line of battle in front of them ! No, this 
is a statement that cannot possibly be true. 

General Early frankly confesses that some of his men 
who were captured before Washington " did some very 
tall talking about my (his) strength and purposes." He 
says that he himself told a "sympathizer" that he 
" would not mind so small a force as 20,000 in the earth- 
works of Washington." Such observations are so very 
difficult to explain, that we may leave them with the 
comment that they do not increase our confidence in the 
evidence of the witness who made them. 

Both General Early and General Long have asserted 
frequently, and with great apparent satisfaction, that the 
Confederate advance " threw the authorities, civil and 
military, at the Federal capital, as well as the whole pop- 
ulation of Washington, into a wild state of alarm and 
consternation." Similar statements have been so fre- 
quently made that they have been countenanced by some 



426 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

Union writers since the war, who have no personal knowl- 
edge on the subject. General Early even claims that the 
universal " wild dismay " so upset the Northern judg- 
ment as to disqualify it from forming any reliable con- 
clusions, and that it led to the most exaggerated esti- 
mates of the Confederate forces. 

These statements are destitute of the least shadow of 
foundation, for a reason which is conclusive. The Union 
men in "Washington had not the slightest knowledge of 
the existence of the danger. No confidence was placed 
in the press, which as often contradicted as it asserted the 
fact of Early's advance, and all its statements were upon 
rumor. It may be assumed that those who had the cus- 
tody of the money and securities would have been in- 
formed as early as others, but until the Sixth Corps was 
in sight of the capital on Monday, neither the treasurer 
nor the register had any knowledge on the subject. Had 
I supposed there was even danger of possible delay on 
the railroads, I should have sent away my family, who 
were staying with me at a hotel. When they finally 
left the city on Monday, I offered to a party of acquaint- 
ances the opportunity of going by the same train, and 
told them what I had seen above Georgetown. But they 
were so confident that only cavalry raiders were around 
the city that they declined, and consequently Major Gil- 
mor relieved them of their luggage at the Gunpowder 
River the next morning. 

There was indignation in "Washington when the facts 
were known, but there was no scare and no fear. And 
the indignation was directed against our own authori- 
ties, and not against the Confederates, the former being 
charged with the defence of the city. It was claimed 
that they should not have permitted its exposure to any 
danger. Even now, when we learn from the Memoirs 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 427 

of General Lee that, within four hours after the de- 
spatch of the Sixth Corps by General Grant to the de- 
fence of Washington, a courier was on his way from 
General Lee to General Early with a letter giving its 
numbers and destination, we may consider it somewhat 
remarkable that one third of Lee's army could have been 
detached on the 13th of June, and marched over two 
hundred miles into Maryland, and no knowledge of the 
movement have reached Grant until the 5th of July, 
when he sent the first reinforcement of a part of the 
Sixth Corps to Baltimore. 

The effect produced by the mere presence of this corps 
was a grand tribute to the reputation of its soldiers. No 
one asked what its numbers were. They had come, and 
the capital was saved. The friends of the Union at once 
assumed that the city must have been in danger, or Gen- 
eral Grant would not have sent the Sixth Corps to its 
defence. The inhabitants resumed their ordinary avoca- 
tions : one went to his field, another to his merchandise, 
with perfect confidence that the Sixth Corps would take 
care of Washington ; and from his instant and precipitate 
retreat the belief was universal that General Early was 
of the same opinion. 



XLV. 

THE JUDGMENT OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN. HIS COOLNESS IN 
TIMES OF EXCITEMENT. HIS FAITH THAT THE UNION 
CAUSE WOULD BE PROTECTED AGAINST SERIOUS DISAS- 
TERFOUR OF HIS LETTERS NOW FIRST PUBLISHED. 

THOSE who were with the President upon the three 
occasions when the capital was supposed to be in danger 
of capture know that in neither of them did he exhibit 
any evidence of excitement or apprehension. The loss 
of the capital he regarded as a disaster that would prob- 
ably be fatal, because it would give Great Britain a pre- 
text for intervening in our affairs, of which she would 
certainly avail herself. For that reason he did not be- 
lieve it would happen. He made no parade of his faith, 
but upon proper occasions he spoke of our ultimate suc- 
cess as one of the designs of the Almighty, and that he 
would protect the country against any disaster from 
which it could not recover. He kept General McClellan 
in command in the campaign which ended at Antietam, 
because, as he said, he clearly saw that that was the 
surest way to insure the defeat of General Lee. The 
despatch which first announced the victory at Gettys- 
burgh did not produce in him the slightest emotion. He 
read it, passed it to a civil officer, and directed him to read 
it to those who stood around him, with the quiet observa- 
tion, " It is no more than I expected." The following 
letters will show the state of his mind during Early's 
invasion, and I submit them without further comment. 

On the 10th of July, at 9.20 A.M., after he had received 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 429 

General Wallace's telegraphic report, which stated his 
defeat, and his losses much heavier than they proved 
afterwards to be, for he then supposed that the Tenth 
Vermont and the One Hundred and Sixth New York 
were captured, the President wrote to ex-Governor 
Swann, at Baltimore, as follows : 

"Yours of last night is received. I have not a single soldier who 
is not disposed of by the military for the best protection of all. By 
latest accounts the enemy is moving on Washington. They cannot 
fly to either place. Let us be vigilant, but keep cool. I hope neither 
Baltimore nor Washington will be sacked. A. LINCOLN." 

At two o'clock P.M. on the same 10th of July he wrote 
to General Grant, at City Point, as follows : 

" Your despatch to General Halleck, referring to what I may think 
in the present emergency, is shown me. General Halleck says we 
have absolutely no force here fit to go to the field. He thinks that 
with the hundred-day men and invalids we have here we can defend 
Washington, and scarcely Baltimore. Besides these, there are about 

eight thousand, not very reliable, under at Harper's Perry, 

with Hunter approaching that point very slowly, with what number 
I suppose you know better than I. 

" Wallace with some odds and ends, and part of what came up 
with Ricketts, was so badly beaten yesterday at Monocacy that 
what is left can attempt no more than to defend Baltimore. What 
we shall get in from Pennsylvania and New York will scarcely be 
worth counting, I fear. 

" Now what I think is, that you should provide to retain your hold 
where you are, certainly, and bring the rest with you personally, and 
make a vigorous effort to destroy the enemy's force in this vicinity. 
I think there is really a fair chance to do this if the movement is 
prompt. This is what I think upon your suggestion, and is not an 
order. A. LINCOLN." 

There are some important interlineations in this letter. 
Speaking of Halleck's opinion, he first wrote that the 
hundred-day men and the invalids " may possibly but 
not certainly defend Washington," and then erased these 



4:30 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

words and interlined, " can defend Washington." As the 
letter was finally sent it expressed his opinion that both 
cities could be defended with their then present forces, 
and that Early's array could be captured by a prompt 
movement of General Grant. It contained no expression 
of fear. 

The President's next letter is dated July llth, and is 
to General Grant : 

" Yours of 10.30 yesterday is received, and very satisfactory. The 
enemy will learn of Wright's arrival, and then the difficulty will be 
to unite Wright and Hunter, south of the enemy, before he will re- 
cross the Potomac. Some firing between Rockville and here now. 

"A. LINCOLN." 

General "Wright with the advance of the Sixth Corps 
began to arrive in the afternoon of the llth, and the 
last detachment went to the front on the morning of the 
12th. President Lincoln was in Fort Stevens at two 
o'clock P.M., and remained there until the fighting was 
over. At 11.30 A.M. of the 12th he wrote to General 
Grant : 

" Vague rumors have been reaching us for two or three days that 
Longstreet's corps is also on its way to this vicinity. Look out for 
its absence from your front. A. LINCOLN." 

These letters show that while the situation was per- 
fectly comprehended by the President, it did not disturb 
the serenity of his mind nor excite his apprehension. 
Neither on this occasion nor upon either of the Con- 
federate campaigns north of the Potomac, did he have 
the slightest fear of the capture of "Washington. 



CHAPTEE XLVI. 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. A SKETCH OF SOME EVENTS IN HIS 

LIFE. 

I CANNOT conclude this volume of disconnected 
sketches more appropriately than by a brief account of 
some events which exerted a powerful influence upon 
Mr. Lincoln's character, and indirectly upon the fortunes 
of the republic. I shall attempt no connected biography, 
but confine myself strictly to an account of the events 
to which I have referred. 

On the 12th day of February, 1809, were born two 
men who each exerted a more powerful and permanent 
influence upon mankind than any of their contempora- 
ries. The name of one was Charles Robert Darwin. 
He came of an old English family, renowned for its con- 
tributions to physical science, which was able to give to 
its young representative all the advantages of wealth 
and position. From the university, young Darwin went 
as naturalist on board the British ship Beagle, engaged 
in explorations in the Southern Ocean. Returning from 
this voyage in the year 1845, he published the scientific 
results of his labors, in a large illustrated volume, and 
also that charming book, " The Voyage of a Naturalist," 
so well known to students of physical science. Then 
for many years he was engaged in his private investiga- 
tions, and cut no figure in scientific literature. But in 
the year 1858 (and synonymously with the "divided- 
house" speech of Mr. Lincoln) he convulsed the world 
of science by the publication of his " Origin of Species." 



432 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

For this publication Mr. Darwin was denounced by the 
whole Christian world. He was called a heretic, a pagan, 
a scoffer at the Bible, a knave or a fool, who had invented 
a theory which led straight to atheism. 

But Mr. Darwin lived to see his theory adopted by 
the leading Christian thinkers of his time, as not irrecon- 
cilable with the Bible, and when he died, " by the will 
of the intelligence of the nation," he was buried in West- 
minster Abbey, "the fitting resting-place," said Dean 
Stanley, " and the monument of the heroes of England." 

On the same 12th day of February, 1809, in one of the 
new settlements of Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln was 
born. With none of the advantages of wealth, educa- 
tion, and position, which assisted the eminent English- 
man, the young Kentuckian rose to greater eminence, 
and exerted a more powerful influence upon his country 
and his race, than his English contemporary. The object 
of this sketch will be fully accomplished if it shall direct 
the student of American history to the events and pro- 
cesses by which such an extraordinary result was at- 
tained. 

Mr. Lincoln once wrote his own biography in these 
words : 

" Born, February 12th, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. 

" Education defective. 

" Profession, a lawyer. 

" Have been a captain of volunteers in the Black Hawk War. 

" Postmaster at a very small office ; four times a member of the 
Illinois legislature, and was a member of the lower House of Con- 
gress." 

If he had not survived the year 1857, he would not 
have required a more extended biography. It is a singu- 
lar but impressive fact that all the events which have 
given him such an honorable place in American history 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 433 

were comprised within the last seven years of his life. 
In his youth and early manhood there was nothing very 
different from the common experiences of young men 
of poor parents and his position in life. He had served 
through four sessions of the state legislature of Illinois, 
without any taint upon his reputation he had an aver- 
age position as a member of Congress in his second term ; 
he may have ranked as the leading lawyer of his county, 
and, what is perhaps more to his credit, he had acquired 
among those who knew him most thoroughly, the name 
of " Honest Abraham Lincoln." But he had done noth- 
ing to distinguish himself above many of his contempo- 
raries, or to give his name a place in history. Had his 
life ended before the new year of 1858, he would have 
left to his children a fair reputation as a lawyer, a good 
name as a citizen, a small estate, and the credit of no re- 
markable achievement. 

x>ut in that year, when he was already past middle 
life, he suddenly appeared above the political horizon, 
and so strikingly challenged the public attention that 
he was taken out of private life, and, without any inter- 
vening step, placed in the presidential chair. This was 
an extraordinary occurrence. It had not happened be- 
fore, to a really able man, since the adoption of the Con- 
stitution. There must exist a reason for it in some act 
of his own or with which he was prominently associated. 
An act which produced such a result should assist us in 
the interpretation of his character, and ought to be dis- 
covered without great difficulty. The inquiry for it in- 
volves some recapitulation. 

It appears from the story of Mr. Lincoln's youth that 
his early education comprised less than a year of very 
ordinary school instruction, and that the only books ac- 
cessible to him were the Bible, "The Pilgrim's Prog- 
28 



434 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ress," " Burns's Poems," and Weems's " Life of "Washing- 
ton." His study of these books was very thorough, for 
they were in large part committed to memory. The 
mental exercise involved taught him how to think. 
During his public life, all his great ideas, his sentences 
that will outlive the spoken language, have been wrought 
out of his own brain with few or no adventitious aids. 
Thus, his first inaugural address is said by those who 
know to have been composed with no assistance but the 
Federal Constitution and one of Henry Clay's speeches. 
But his entire public life testifies how thoroughly he 
had learned the power of thought, a lesson which few 
men completely master. Judged by their relations, 
some of his most matured mental conclusions must be 
referred to those years of quiet home life which inter- 
vened between his retirement from Congress, in 1849, 
and his nomination to the Senate of the United States 
in the summer of 1858. 

The decade which ended in the year last named cov- 
ered the aggressive campaign of slavery. The original 
slave states had been content to abide by the Missouri 
compromise line, and made no attempt to carry their 
domestic institution beyond it. But their representa- 
tives in Congress, aided by Northern votes, secured the 
passage of the act for the return of fugitive slaves ; and 
encouraged by that act, and their short-lived victory in 
the Kansas controversy, they broadly claimed the right 
to carry their slave property into free territory. The 
decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in 
the case of Dred Scott, very nearly confirmed their claim, 
and well-nigh broke down the last geographical barrier 
between freedom and slavery. 

The friends of human freedom had never asserted any 
right to legislate touching slavery in the slave states or 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 435 

south of the compromise line. Within those limits slav- 
ery was conceded to be a continuing evil, entrenched 
in the Constitution. The most ultra-abolitionists had 
restricted their labors to the attempted abolition of sla- 
very in the District of Columbia and its exclusion from 
the territories. No public man had proposed to attack 
slavery within its consecrated limits. Had the advo- 
cates of the institution abided by the line to which they 
had for a good consideration agreed, there is no reason 
to believe that it would have ever been disturbed except 
by themselves. But they would not abide by it. They 
charged the North with an agitation for which they 
alone were responsible. They made every success the 
pretext for some new aggression, until the halls of Con- 
gress became the theatre of a conflict which was re- 
newed with every session with increasing intensity. 

In the quiet of private life Mr. Lincoln was a thought- 
ful observer of this controversy. He had taken note of 
the aggressions of the slave power, and he reached the 
conclusion that they would continue until they became 
intolerable. In the Kansas outrages they had almost 
reached that point, and when the point was passed he 
believed that the fate of slavery would be determined. 
He hated slavery, because it was oppressive and cruel 
he loved freedom, because it was the natural right of all 
men, ordained by the Almighty. Freedom had been 
fighting a losing battle, but it would triumph in God's 
own good time. He saw where his own party had erred, 
and he worked out in his own mind the lines upon which 
the next battle the fight for freedom, could be won. 

Mr. Lincoln's mind was not secretive, but it was his 
habit not to disclose the problems upon which it was en- 
gaged until all his own doubts were removed and his 
conclusions settled. This peculiar quality now received 



436 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

a marked illustration. On the 17th of June, 1858, the 
Kepublicans of Illinois, at their state convention, in 
Springfield, nominated him as their candidate for the 
Senate of the United States. He anticipated the nom- 
ination, and had written out his speech upon its accept- 
ance. This speech seems to have been the most effective 
of his life, and as momentous as was ever delivered in 
this republic. Its theme was the insatiable demands of 
the slave power. Upon the incontestable authority of 
the Saviour of men, that " if a house be divided against 
itself that house cannot stand," he avowed his own faith 
in these words : " I believe this government cannot per- 
manently endure, half slave and half free." 

It is now more than a quarter of a century since Mr. 
Lincoln himself gave an unpretending account of the oc- 
casion and circumstances of this speech. He spoke of it 
as an example of the thoroughness of his own convic- 
tions. It wrought upon his hearers a conviction equally 
thorough, that for the first time it put the issue between 
freedom and slavery upon its true ground. We know 
now that it made Mr. Lincoln President and drove the 
bolt of death straight to the life of human slavery. 

The announcement of this bold prediction almost pro- 
duced a convulsion among the Republicans. It came 
upon them like a burst of thunder from a cloudless sky. 
His friends were shocked his party leaders were ap- 
palled. They declared that it destroyed his chances of 
an election ; that unless he retracted or modified it, his 
defeat was inevitable. The issue, as he proposed it, they 
said, involved the destruction of slavery or the govern- 
ment. It was a declaration of open war. "I cannot 
change the fact, nor can I escape the conclusions of my 
own judgment," said Mr. Lincoln. " The statement is a 
truth confirmed by all human experience. It has been 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 437 

true for more than six thousand years it is still indis- 
putably true. I cannot retract it without resorting to 
subterfuge, and that I will not do. I would rather be 
defeated, with this expression held up and discussed be- 
fore the people, than to exclude it from my speech and 
be victorious." And so the message went forth. It was 
the result of his calm deliberation by it he would stand 
or fall! 

Judge Douglas was already his opposing candidate. 
He seized upon what he believed to be his opportunity 
to destroy Mr. Lincoln. In his reply to the prediction, 
he assumed an air of lofty superiority and scornfully 
declared that Mr. Lincoln's speech had been " prepared 
for the occasion." " I admit the charge," said Mr. Lin- 
coln. " I have not a fine education like Judge Douglas, 
and I cannot discourse on dialectics as he can, but I can 
be honest with the people, and tell them what I believe." 
Then he challenged Judge Douglas to a public discus- 
sion ; the challenge was accepted ; the debate followed, 
which is now historical. Instead of destroying the Re- 
publican party, it drew to it a majority of the voters of 
Illinois, and left its candidate, although defeated by the 
legislature, the most conspicuous of its leaders. 

The influence of this debate has not yet passed away. 
Men still remember and refer, as an epoch in their lives, 
to the first discussion of the new issue by these two can- 
didates, in the city of Chicago, on the 9th and 10th of 
July, 1858. Mr. Lincoln was an auditor when Judge 
Douglas, on the 9th, delivered a speech of such power 
that his admirers believed it unanswerable. But on the 
following evening Mr. Lincoln made an answer, in which 
he established a national reputation as an orator, and the 
" little giant of the West " found his peer as a logician 
and his master in eloquence. 



438 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

What was it which drew such crowds of plain men to 
every one of the seven meetings for this debate ? Neither 
speaker indulged in oratorio flights or descended to the 
common level of the hustings. Mr. Lincoln even dis- 
dained his ordinary anecdote and humor. Both sought 
to address the sound reason of their auditors by fair 
argument alone. Yet the public interest in the debate 
increased as it proceeded, and was never greater than on 
the evening when it closed. Mr. Douglas had not been 
an ultra pro-slavery man he had opposed his own party 
in the trick by which it sought to force the Lecompton 
Constitution upon the people of Kansas ; he now took 
very high ground. He claimed that he was the cham- 
pion of constitutional rights. He declared that he would 
maintain and enforce these rights for all the people, and 
when these rights were recognized he said he " did not 
care whether slavery was voted up or voted down." 

In his reply Mr. Lincoln spurned all half-way meas- 
ures and men. Was slavery right? If it was, then 
Judge Douglas ought to be sustained. If it was wrong, 
then Judge Douglas and his party had no claim to the 
support of good men. But slavery was not right. Sla- 
very was degrading it was cruel, brutal it was unjust 
and wicked. Therefore it was wrong, and Judge Doug- 
las and his party ought to care, and ought to vote, to 
put it down. Freedom was the opposite of slavery. It 
was noble, just, godlike and it was right. It was the 
gift of the Almighty to all men. He would see that 
his children were not robbed of their birthright. Free- 
dom was truth, it " was mighty, and would prevail !" 

To this plain issue of the wrong or right of slavery 
Lincoln held his adversary with an inflexible hand. 
Douglas plied him with questions he answered them 
fully, always coming back to the wrong of slavery. He 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 439 

put questions in return, which his opponent answered 
evasively, and then strove to retreat under cover of the 
evasion. Lincoln was the victor in every encounter. 
Finally, he drove his adversary into the corner, where 
there was no escape, and where he extorted from him 
the admission that his party was committed to the doc- 
trine that slavery was right. Then, with the earnestness 
of Paul, he demanded, What true man would uphold 
slavery and wrong against freedom and the right and 
justice ? 

The great contest was half won when it was to be 
fought to its termination in the light of day on its real 
issue. Slavery had declared the war. It was not in its 
nature to recede or to lay down its arms until it was 
victorious or defeated. It was Lincoln who had forced 
the fighting to its true issue, and he, therefore, became 
the natural leader of the party of freedom. 

In the new departure of the " divided-house " speech, 
and in his powerful demonstration of the inexcusable 
wrong of slavery, lay the secret of Mr. Lincoln's power. 
He was at once in great demand as a political speaker. 
In the Ohio campaign of 1859 in the Cooper Institute 
in New York in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Khode 
Island, and in Kansas everywhere he went, he drew 
large audiences. His style of speaking was changed. 
He no longer told witty stories; his speeches were so 
solidly argumentative that a few said they were dry, 
and the same critics decided that their length made them 
tiresome. But the great audiences heard them delight- 
ed, and complained only of their brevity. No theme 
had ever made so many permanent converts to his party 
faith as his, touching the wrong of slavery no speaker 
had laid it bare with the strong sense of Abraham Lin- 
coln. 



440 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

As the day appointed for the national nominating 
convention for the presidency approached, the name of 
Mr. Lincoln was mentioned as one of the candidates of 
the great West. But he was not regarded as a strong 
candidate in comparison with Mr. Seward, Mr. Chase, 
Mr. Cameron, or Judge Bates, of Missouri. The Kepub- 
lican party was under a great obligation to Mr. Seward. 
His ability was conceded ; his long and brilliant services 
deserved recognition. It was supposed by his friends 
that he would poll the largest vote on the first, and be 
nominated on the second ballot. But the convention 
witnessed a demonstration in favor of Mr. Lincoln which 
left no doubt of the place he had secured in the hearts of 
the people. At the right moment the enthusiasm for 
him was lighted, and it ran over the convention like a 
prairie fire. It not only gave him the nomination, but 
it secured a solid, hearty union of all the members in his 
support. 

The presidential canvass of the year 1860 was unique 
in our political experience. It required none of the acces- 
sories of the " log-cabin " campaign of " Tippecanoe and 
Tyler too." The pseudonym of " Kailsplitter " was the 
gift of his enemies. The name of Abraham Lincoln was 
an inspiration. Enthusiasm for his election pervaded 
the country like an electric influence. It was every- 
where the same. In the crowded city or at the country 
cross-roads ; up in the mountain hamlets, or out on the 
Western prairies ; among the fishermen of the Atlantic, 
and the miners of the Pacific coast, the political orator 
was heard with quiet consideration until he spoke the 
name of Lincoln. At that name, cheers such as never 
welcomed king or conqueror supplied his peroration. 
That was the only campaign in which every voter who 
deliberated voted for the same candidate, in which every 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 441 

highest estimate for the successful candidate was ex- 
ceeded by the counted vote. 

From his nomination to his election Mr. Lincoln calm- 
ly awaited events. He came and went among his neigh- 
bors, received delegations and dismissed them delighted, 
but ignorant of his intentions. He seemed to be less 
interested in the result than his supporters he received 
the news of his election without exultation. He had 
promised no rewards, made no pledges, and was free to 
follow whither his judgment pointed the way. 

From October, when his election was assured, until 
the end of February, the mind of Mr. Lincoln was de- 
voted to his coming work. He laid it out with the care 
of an architect planning a building. He studied the situ- 
ation. He determined the general policy of his admin- 
istration with the greatest care. He prepared his in- 
augural address he decided upon the tenor of his 
speeches to be made on his journey to Washington he 
well considered the temper of mind in which he should 
first meet the supporters of slavery. Nothing was left 
to accident which he could possibly foresee. 

His first public address was his farewell to his Spring- 
field friends on his departure for the capital. That ad- 
dress was the microcosm of his future. It was an 
avowal of his own undoubting faith in, and purpose 
to be guided by, the wisdom of the Almighty. That 
faith and purpose he repeated upon every proper occa- 
sion as long as he lived. In conformity with it, in all 
the addresses he made upon his journey, there was no 
threat, no harsh word, nothing but kindness for the whole 
people. To the friends of the South he extended the 
hand of affection. His inaugural address was full of 
peace, kindness, and good will. On one point only he 
was inflexible. He would perform his duty, enforce 



442 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

obedience to the laws, and keep his oath to support the 
Constitution. 

The advent of the war was no surprise to him. He 
knew that slavery was so woven into the national life 
that it could not be wrenched out of it without violence 
and blood as he said afterwards, that " every drop of 
blood drawn by the lash must be repaid by another 
drawn by the sword." But in all the pressure of public 
duty and excitement of warlike preparation his mind 
was engaged upon measures, not to punish, but to pro- 
tect those who had brought war upon the country as 
the consequence of their own reckless acts. Slavery, 
which had taken the sword, must perish by the sword 
it was the cause of the war, and war would only cease 
with its destruction. Yet he advocated payment by the 
nation of the full value of the slaves, and would even 
have removed the slaves into a far country at the na- 
tional expense. It was not until his kindly proposals 
had been rejected by those whom they would have re- 
lieved, with curses, that he ceased to make them, and 
the patience of the loyal North had been twice ex- 
hausted when he issued the decree of emancipation. 

He came to his great office inexperienced in govern- 
ment no modern ruler was ever surrounded by so many 
difficulties. Yet he brought the nation through them 
all into the harbor of permanent peace ; and, looking 
back over his term, it is very difficult to say where he 
took a wrong course or committed an error. Finally, 
when he was strongest in the love of a loyal people, had 
won the friendship of his former enemies, and had gained 
the respect of mankind, he sealed his faithful service 
with his blood, and was slain by an insane assassin. 

Nor was the intellectual growth of Mr. Lincoln any 
less remarkable. "We have seen that his education 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 443 

scarcely deserved the name. His course of reading 
was restricted to a few good books, but his thoroughness 
of study more than compensated for their lack of num- 
bers, if any such existed ; for he has written many para- 
graphs which, in force, elegance, and beauty, are not 
surpassed in our language. Except Shakespeare, no 
writer of English has produced so many that will out- 
live the spoken tongue. His farewell to his Spring- 
field neighbors the closing paragraph of his first, and 
the last third of his second inaugural address the last 
sentence of his message to the third session of the Thirty- 
seventh Congress his Gettysburg speech of Nov. 19, 
1863, are examples from his pen which will not suffer 
by comparison with anything written by Addison or 
Irving, Daniel Webster, or that scholarly master of Eng- 
lish composition, George P. Marsh. And where in our 
language is a finer antithesis than this, thrown off, 
calamo currente, in the middle of a letter in answer to 
strictures on the conduct of the war? "When peace 
with victory comes, there will be some black men who 
will remember that with silent tongue, and clenched 
teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they 
have helped on mankind to this great consummation ; 
while I fear there will be some white ones unable to for- 
get that with malignant heart and deceitful speech they 
have striven to hinder and prevent it." A collection of 
his public addresses and letters, commencing with his 
farewell to Springfield in February, 1861, and ending 
with the last made by him on April 11, 1865, will be 
read hereafter with an interest as absorbing as any vol- 
ume in the literature of the rebellion. 

Some of his written compositions may be classed as 
literary curiosities. In August, 1862, Mr. Horace Greeley 
had written to him an impatient and dictatorial letter, 



444 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

charging him with culpable delay in the emancipation 
of the slaves, and their employment in suppressing the 
rebellion. Mr. Lincoln knew the force of short words 
and crisp sentences he never used those of many syl- 
lables or pretentious sound. His answer was all the 
more effective in that it took no note of Mr. Greeley's 
temper while its conclusive statements were embodied 
in four hundred and thirteen words, of which three hun- 
dred and two, or more than seventy-four per cent., were 
words of a single syllable. 

In the campaign of 1864, the friends of General Mc- 
Clellan, in Tennessee, presented to him a protest against 
the oath of loyalty prescribed by Governor Johnson, to be 
taken by the voters. It was an adroit political attempt 
to connect the President with a subject over which he 
had no, authority, which he detected at first sight. They 
wanted an answer. " I expect to let the friends of George 
B. McClellan manage their side of this contest in their 
own way, and I will manage my side of it in my way," 
he said. They were not satisfied, and wanted an answer 
in writing. A few days later he sent them his written 
reply. It occupied one and a half printed octavo pages ; 
in fifteen paragraphs, none of them more than three 
lines. But every paragraph was an answer which struck 
the protest like a rock from a catapult. 

He never hesitated to sacrifice euphony to strength. 
" This finishes the job" he said, when Illinois had voted, 
making the number of states requisite to ratify the amend- 
ment of the Constitution abolishing slavery. Cuthbert 
Bullitt and other citizens of Louisiana had written to 
him, protesting against the severity with which the war 
was waged. " Would you prosecute the war with elder- 
stalk squirts charged with rose-water, if you were in my 
position ?" he demanded, and there was no reply. In his 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 445 

message to the extra session of Congress of July 4, 1861, 
he wrote of Southern political leaders, that, " with re- 
bellion thus sugar-coated, they have been drugging the 
public mind of their section for more than thirty years." 
Mr. Defrees, the public printer, advised the omission of 
the compound word, on the ground that it was not dig- 
nified. " Let it stand !" said the President; " I was not 
attempting to be dignified, but plain. There is not a 
voter in the Union who will not know what sugar-coated 
means." 

His heart was as tender as ever beat in a human 
breast. Those who saw him standing by the cofiins of 
young Ellsworth and the eloquent Baker knew how he 
loved his friends how he sorrowed over their loss. In 
his companionship with his boys, and particularly with 
the younger, there was a most touching picture of pa- 
rental affection; in his emotion when he lost them, a grief 
too sacred to be further exposed. " He could not deny 
a pardon or a respite to a soldier condemned to die for 
a crime which did not involve depravity, if he were to 
try," said an old army officer. He shrank from the con- 
firmation of a sentence of death in such a case, as if it 
were a murder by his hand. " They say that I destroy 
all discipline and am cruel to the army, when I will not 
let them shoot a soldier now and then," he said. " But 
I cannot see it. If God wanted me to see it, he would 
let me know it, and until he does, I shall go on pardon- 
ing and being cruel to the end." An old friend called 
by appointment, and found him with a pile of records of 
courts-martial before him, for approval. " Go away, 
Swett!" he exclaimed, with intense impatience "to- 
morrow is butchering day, anji I will not be interrupted 
until I have found excuses for saving the lives of these 
poor fellows !" Many pages might be filled with au- 



446 RECOLLECTIONS Ofr PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

thentic illustrations of his tenderness and mercy, for 
they were prominent in his official life. Three times I 
assisted in procuring their exercise, each to the saving 
of a soldier, and each time he shared, our own delight 
over our success, though he knew not how his face shone 
when he felt that he had spared a human life. 

In the presidential campaign of 1864 there were sul- 
len whisperings that Mr. Lincoln had no religious opin- 
ions nor any interest in churches or Christian institu- 
tions. They faded away with other libels, never to be 
renewed until after his death. One of his biographers, 
who calls himself the " friend and partner for twenty 
years" of the deceased President, has since published 
what he calls a history of his life, in which he revives 
the worst of these rumors, with additions which, if true, 
would destroy much of the world's respect for Mr. Lin- 
coln. He asserts that his " friend and partner " was " an 
infidel verging towards atheism." Others have dissem- 
inated these charges in lectures and fugitive sketches 
so industriously that they have produced upon strangers 
some impression of their truth. The excuse alleged is, 
their desire to present Mr. Lincoln to the world "just as 
he was." Their real purpose is to present him just as 
they would have him to be, as much as possible like 
themselves. 

It is a trait of the infidel to parade his unbelief before 
the public, and he thinks something gained to himself 
when he can show that others are equally deficient in 
moral qualities. But these writers have attempted too 
much. Their principal charge of infidelity, tinged with 
atheism, is so completely at variance with all our knowl- 
edge of his opinions that its origin must be attributed to 
malice or to a defective mental constitution. 

His sincerity and candor were conspicuous qualities of 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 

Mr. Lincoln's mind. Deception was a vice in which he 
had neither experience nor skill. All who were admit- 
ted to his intimacy will agree that he was incapable of 
professing opinions which he did not entertain. When 
we find him at the moment of leaving his home for 
Washington, surrounded by his neighbors of a quarter 
of a century, taking Washington for his exemplar, whose 
success he ascribed "to the aid of that Divine Provi- 
dence upon which he at all times relied," and publicly 
declaring that he, himself, " placed his whole trust in the 
same Almighty Being, and the prayers of Christian men 
and women ;" when, not once or twice, but on all prop- 
er, and more than a score of subsequent occasions, he 
avowed his faith in an Omnipotent Ruler, who will judge 
the world in righteousness in the Bible as the inspired 
record of his history and his law; when with equal 
constancy he thanked Almighty God for, and declared 
his interest in, Christian institutions and influences as the 
appointed means for his effective service, we may as- 
sert that we know that he was neither an atheist nor 
an infidel, but, on the contrary, a sincere believer in the 
fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. In fact, 
he believed so confidently that the Almighty was mak- 
ing use of the war, of himself, and other instrumentalities 
in working out some great design for the benefit of hu- 
manity, and his belief that he himself was directed by 
the same Omniscient Power was expressed with such 
frankness and frequency, that it attracted attention, and 
was criticised by some as verging towards superstition. 
His public life was a continuous service of God and his 
fellow-man, controlled and guided by the golden rule, 
in which there was no hiatus of unbelief or incredulity. 
Here I might well stop, and submit that these charges 
do not deserve any further consideration. But I know 



448 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

how false they are, and I may be excused if I record 
one of my sources of knowledge. 

The emphatic statement made by the President to 
Mr. Fessenden, that he was called to the Treasury by 
a Power higher than human authority, I have already 
mentioned. His calm serenity at times when others 
were so anxious, his confidence that his own judgment 
was directed by the Almighty, so impressed me that, 
when I next had the opportunity, at some risk of giving 
offence, I ventured to ask him directly how far he be- 
lieved the Almighty actually directed our national 
affairs. There was a considerable pause before he 
spoke, and when he did speak, what he said was more in 
the nature of a monologue than an answer to my in- 
quiry : 

"That the Almighty does make use of human agencies, 
and directly intervenes in human affairs, is," he said, 
"one of the plainest statements of the Bible. I have 
had so many evidences of his direction, so many in- 
stances when I have been controlled by some other 
power than my own will, that I cannot doubt that this 
power comes from above. I frequently see my way 
clear to a decision when I am conscious that I have no 
sufficient facts upon which to found it. But I cannot re- 
call one instance in which I have followed my own judg- 
ment, founded upon such a decision, where the results 
were unsatisfactory ; whereas, in almost every instance 
where I have yielded to the views of others, I have had 
occasion to regret it. I am satisfied that when the Al- 
mighty wants me to do or not to do a particular thing, 
he finds a way of letting me know it. I am confident 
that it is his design to restore the Union. He will do 
it in his own good time. We should obey and not op- 
pose his will." 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 449 

"You speak with such confidence," I said, "that I 
would like to know how your knowledge that God acts 
directly upon human affairs compares in certainty with 
your knowledge of a fact apparent to the senses for 
example, the fact that we are at this moment here in 
this room." 

" One is as certain as the other," he answered, " al- 
though the conclusions are reached by different proc- 
esses. I know by my senses that the movements of the 
world are those of an infinitely powerful machine, which 
runs for ages without a variation. A man who can put 
two ideas together knows that such a machine requires 
an infinitely powerful maker and governor : man's nature 
is such that he cannot take in the machine and keep out 
the maker. This maker is God infinite in wisdom as 
well as in power. Would we be any more certain if we 
saw him ?" 

" I am not controverting your position," I said. " Your 
confidence interests me beyond expression. I wish I 
knew how to acquire it. Even now, must it not all de- 
pend on our faith in the Bible ?" 

" No. There is the element of personal experience," 
he said. " If it did, the character of the Bible is easily 
established, at least to my satisfaction. We have to be- 
lieve many things which we do not comprehend. The 
Bible is the only one that claims to be God's Book 
to comprise his law his history. It contains an im- 
mense amount of evidence of its own authenticity. It 
describes a governor omnipotent enough to operate this 
great machine, and declares that he made it. It states 
other facts which we do not fully comprehend, but 
which we cannot account for. What shall we do with 
them? 

" Now let us treat the Bible fairly. If we had a wit- 
29 



450 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

ness on the stand whose general story we knew was 
true, we would believe him when he asserted facts of 
which we had no other evidence. We ought to treat the 
Bible with equal fairness. I decided a long time ago 
that it was less difficult to believe that the Bible was what 
it claimed to be than to disbelieve it. It is a good book 
for us to obey it contains the ten commandments, the 
golden rule, and many other rules which ought to be 
followed. No man was ever the worse for living ac- 
cording to the directions of the Bible." 

" If your views are correct, the Almighty is on our 
side, and we ought to win without so many losses " 

He promptly interrupted me and said, " "We have no 
right to criticise or complain. He is on our side, and so 
is the Bible, and so are churches and Christian societies 
and organizations all of them, so far as I know, al- 
most without an exception. It makes me stronger and 
more confident to know that all the Christians in the 
loyal states are praying for our success, that all their 
influences are working to the same end. Thousands of 
them are fighting for us, and no one will say that an 
officer or a private is less brave because he is a praying 
soldier. At first, when we had such long spells of bad 
luck, I used to lose heart sometimes. Now I seem to 
know that Providence has protected and will protect us 
against any fatal defeat. All we have to do is to trust 
the Almighty and keep right on obeying his orders and 
executing his will." 

I could not press inquiry further. I knew that Mr. 
Lincoln was no hypocrite. There was an air of such 
sincerity in his manner of speaking, and especially in 
his references to the Almighty, that no one could have 
doubted his faith unless the doubter believed him dis- 
honest. It scarcely needed his repeated statements that 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 451 

" whatever shall appear to be God's will, that I will do," 
his special gratitude to God for victories, or his numer- 
ous expressions of his firm faith that God willed our 
final triumph, to convince the American people that he 
was not and could not be an atheist or an infidel. 

He has written of the Bible, that "this great Book 
of God is the best gift which God has ever given to 
man," and that " all things desirable for man to know 
are contained in it." His singular familiarity with its 
contents is even stronger evidence of the high place it 
held in his judgment. His second inaugural address 
shows how sensibly he appreciated the force and beauty 
of its passages, and constitutes an admirable application 
of its truths, only possible as the result of familiar use 
and thorough study. 

Further comment cannot be necessary. Abraham 
Lincoln accepted the Bible as the inspired word of God 
he believed and faithfully endeavored to live according 
to the fundamental principles and doctrines of the Chris- 
tian faith. To doubt either proposition is to be untrue 
to his memory, a disloyalty of which no American 
should be guilty. 

There are a few persons whose perverted minds ex- 
perience a satisfaction in imputing to Mr. Lincoln a love 
for coarse, erotic stories and a habit of repeating them, 
which, if he had, would indicate a vulgar stratum in his 
mental structure. If these persons were conscious of 
the contempt with which those who really knew him 
listen to their statements that they have heard Mr. Lin- 
coln relate these stories, they would never repeat them. 
No occupant of the Executive chair knew better the ex- 
altation of his office or how to maintain its dignity. If 
he had been inclined to such practices, this knowledge 



452 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN 

would have effectually restrained him from their indul- 
gence. But there is not a shadow of truth in these im- 
putations. Major Hay and Mr. Nicolay, his secretaries, 
were members of his household during a large portion 
of his official term Mr. Carpenter, the artist, lived in 
the White House during six months Professor Henry 
sought every opportunity to be with him, and these four 
witnesses, who saw him in his unconstrained private life, 
agree that neither of them heard from Mr. Lincoln's lips 
any sentence or word which might not have been re- 
peated in the presence of ladies. The subject is one 
upon which I can and must give evidence. It was a 
great pleasure to me to listen to him, and I have several 
times sought to excite his propensity for anecdote with 
success. In my own office, where no one but a mes- 
senger was present, he was under no restraint. Yet I 
never heard him relate a story or utter a sentence which I 
could not have repeated to my wife and daughters. The 
story of young "Webster and the schoolmaster, related 
elsewhere, was the least refined ever told in my presence. 
What may have been his habit, in this respect, before 
his election, and his coming to Washington, is unimpor- 
tant. It is of his public life of which I am speaking. 
A vulgar story in the mouth of the President of the 
United States would have been offensive to none more 
so than to Mr. Lincoln. It is time that the statements 
in question should cease. They originate in the prurient 
imaginations of their authors. The friends of Abraham 
Lincoln, who revere his memory, should protect his repu- 
tation. They should resent such imputations in a man- 
ner which will impress his calumniators if it does not re- 
form them. 

I am asked, and more frequently as time moves on, 



AND HIS ADMINISTRATION. 453 

which is the best biography of Abraham Lincoln? 
Where is the most reliable account of his life and ser- 
vices to be found ? I am able to answer these inquiries 
without hesitation. In my opinion, the noble work of 
Messrs. Nicolay and Hay must always be the standard 
life of Lincoln. Their opportunities for observation and 
the collection of authentic facts were exceptionally good 
their labors have been diligent and faithful. Their 
volumes constitute a great storehouse of facts well ar- 
ranged and digested. It would be faint praise to say 
that their history is a work of rare merit. 

For those who deem the work of these authors too 
comprehensive, and wish to know what can be com- 
prised in a single volume, his life by Mr. Arnold will 
have no competitor. Mr. Arnold was Mr. Lincoln's asso- 
ciate at the bar, and his friend of many years. The two 
friends were unlike each other, and yet I think Mr. Ar- 
nold possessed many of the qualities which made Mr. 
Lincoln so attractive. His book was a labor of love, and 
is everywhere worthy of its subject and its author. Al- 
though Mr. Arnold did not survive to witness its publi- 
cation, and it lacks the final polish of his hand, it is one 
of the most reliable of American biographies. 

My pen lingers over this paragraph, the last I may 
ever write about a good man whom I honored, respected, 
loved. I do not hope to make it worthy of its theme 
or to employ it to better advantage than to commend 
the history of Abraham Lincoln to the careful study of 
all my countrymen. He came to his great office inex- 
perienced and almost unknown his responsibilities were 
heavier, his difficulties greater than were ever encoun- 
tered by the head of any civil government he was the 
object of the unrelenting hostility of his enemies, of the 
fiercest criticism of many of his former friends. 



454 RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN. 

His final triumph was not long delayed. An hour 
came of universal victory, when the nation was swelling 
with a mighty joy over peace restored to a reunited 
nation. It was the last hour of his noble life. In the 
very climax of his career, when his mind was filled with 
sympathy for the vanquished and with plans for their 
relief, when those who had borne arms against him had 
been overcome by his noble generosity, when he had 
not a personal enemy in all the republic, he was stricken 
down. It is an honor and a consolation to his country- 
men, South as well as North, that he fell by the hand of 
a crazed assassin. 

I venture the hope that what I have written in this 
volume will tend to suppress the aspersions of a very 
small number of writers upon Mr. Lincoln, and increase 
the interest of his countrymen in the study of his life 
and character. The time has not yet come to measure 
his services, or to compare him with other public men. 
We must leave that duty to those who come after us, 
when Abraham Lincoln shall have ceased to grow in the 
world's esteem, and we, who saw his face and heard his 
voice, and felt the warm grasp of his kindly hand, have 
passed away. For the present, we may say of him as 
his biographer wrote of Cicero, that, " though violent, his 
death was not untimely," for, like another noble man and 
martyr, he was ready to be offered, he had fought a 
good fight, he had finished his course, and he had kept 
the faith. Until we shall follow him where he shall re- 
ceive his crown, let our hearts be his shrine, and our 
prayer without ceasing be, " Lord, keep his memory 
green !" 



INDEX. 



Adams, Charles Francis, American 
minister in London, his efforts to 
prevent sailing of Confederate iron- 
clads, 198 ; bis confidential de- 
spatches, 199; his agreement to 
indemnify the liberal Englishman, 
202 ; prevents the sailing of the 
iron-clads ; value of the service, 
210,211. 

Anderson, Major Robert, favors ar- 
mored vessels, from experience 
with armored battery at siege of 
Fort Sumter, 212. 

Armored vessels : Messrs. Laird con- 
tract to build two for the Con- 
federates, 197 ; their destination 
and intended use, 198 ; how their 
delivery was prevented by noble 
act of an Englishman, 198-211; 
they are sold to Eastern powers, 
208, 209 ; iron-clads first suggested 
by Major Anderson after fall of 
Sumter, 213; their use opposed by 
naval officers, 214. 

Assassination conspiracy : Republi- 
cans refuse to believe in its exist- 
ence ; two members of Conference 
secretly visit Baltimore, February 
17th, 58 ; Baltimore Republicans 
give details of the plot, 60; cool 
statements of an Italian, who had 
betrayed his associates, 61 ; con- 
spiracy at first believed to be con- 
fined to the criminal classes ; meet- 
ings of its members ; who provided 
the money ? an actor connected 
with it, 60-63 ; police in sympathy 
with the plot, 63 ; the schooner and 
tug purchased, 61-63 ; Mr. Lincoln 
declines to pass through Baltimore 
except in open day, 63 ; the facts 
communicated to E. B. Washburn, 
who replied that Mr. Lincoln had 



finally put himself in the hands of 
his friends, who would insure his 
safety, 64. 

Baird, Professor Spencer F., secretary 
of the Smithsonian, 238 ; suggests 
the Potomac Club, 239 ; his energy 
and scientific work, 240 ; discusses 
the octopus, 249. 

Baker, L. C., made chief of the detec- 
tive service, 345 ; his lawless pro- 
ceedings, 346 ; one of his illustra- 
tive methods, 347-349 ; his method 
of dealing with " bounty- jumpers," 
350. 

Baltimore city: obstructs passage 
of Northern forces ; public meet- 
ings to prevent passage of troops, 
120 ; authorities favor secession, 
121; the " Plug-Uglies," 125-130. 

Bates, Edward, nominated for attor- 
ney-general, 104. 

Baxter, General H. H., with ex-Gov. 
Hiland Hall, Levi Underwood, B. D. 
Harris, and the author, delegates 
from Vermont to Peace Conference, 
19. 

Bellows, Rev. Dr. H. W., principal or- 
ganizer of the Sanitary Commission ; 
tenders its services to the Surgeon- 
General, who rejects them, 155; his 
indignation ; fortunate results of his 
appeal to the President, 156, 157. 

Belgian muskets condemned, pur- 
chased by War Department at a low 
cost to arm the first volunteers, 150. 

Benjamin, Judah P., a Secession leader, 
meets other leaders at house of 
Davis, Jan. 5, where final plans were 
agreed upon, 29. 

Bidwell, General D. D., charge of his 
brigade at battle of Fort Stevens, 
416. 



456 



INDEX. 



Black, Judge, transferred from at- 
torney-general to State Department 
on resignation of General Cass, 28 ; 
his opinion that Congress had no 
power to make war upon a state, 
179. 

Blair, Montgomery, nominated post- 
master-general, 104. 

Blair, Colonel Frank, his services in 
the Lincoln campaign of 1860,9; 
prefers charges against General 
Fremont, 174. 

Blatchford, R. M., with General Dix 
and George Opdyke, authorized to 
expend $2,000,000 for public de- 
fence in April, 1861, 177. 

Bonds of the United States : how 
$10,000,000 were issued, 194 ; ne- 
cessity for their issue in seventy 
hours, 195, 196 ; Mr. C. F. Adams's 
agreement to deposit them as se- 
curity for the noble act of an Eng- 
lishman, 201 ; severe labor of their 
issue within the time required, 204 ; 
success of the undertaking, 208 ; 
statistics of the magnitude of Treas- 
ury issues, 209 ; more than half of 
this issue returned to the Treasury 
in original packages, 209. 

Bradley, John, a Vermont contractor, 
offers to remove the colored race 
to Texas, 337 ; his opinion of the 
President, 338. 

Breckinridge, Vice - President, prom- 
ises co-operation with General Scott 
to secure count of electoral vote and 
declaration of President Lincoln's 
election, 38 ; his dignity and firm- 
ness, 43 ; declares the election of 
Lincoln and Hamlin, 44 ; his fidel- 
ity until the end of his official term, 
46 ; his division forms part of Gen- 
eral Early's army, in the campaign 
against Washington, in July, 1864, 
391. 

Breech-loading guns: none in use at 
commencement of the war, except 
Colt's revolvers for the cavalry, 
150. 

Bright, John, one of the few friends 
of the United States in Great Brit- 
ain, 134. 

Buchanan, President: determination 
of Secessionists to drive out loyal 
men and control his Cabinet, 28; 



receives the Peace Conference, 32; 
his intense anxiety ; urges mem- 
bers to make great concessions to 
the South, 33 ; does not refer to in- 
coming administration, 34 ; his re- 
turn to private life, with less credit 
than he deserved, 91. 

Bushnell, Cornelius S., presses passage 
of bill authorizing iron-clads, and 
builds the Galena, 215 ; shows Cap- 
tain Ericsson's plans to the Presi- 
dent, 215; the President favors and 
the Board of Construction consents 
to their adoption, 216; secures the 
contract for the Monitor, which is 
built principally through his energy, 
with Messrs. Winslow, Corning, and 
Griswold his associates in the con- 
tract, 216; energy of her construc- 
tion, 217. 

Butler, Benjamin F., Colonel of the 
Eighth Massachusetts Regiment ; 
on steam - ferry Maryland, from 
Havre-de-Grace to Annapolis, 125; 
saves the Constitution by towing 
her out of Annapolis; awaits a 
rebel attack at Annapolis Junction, 
126-128. 

Cabinet officers : principle of their 
selection by President Lincoln, 104. 

Call for men: first call for 75,000, 
April 15, 107. 

Campbell, Hugh, appointed on com- 
mission in Department of the West, 
173. 

Cameron, Senator Simon, announced 
as a prospective member of Mr. 
Lincoln's Cabinet, 81 ; nominated 
as Secretary of War, 104 ; applied 
to for rifles for First Vermont, 151 ; 
his resignation as Secretary of War, 
168; success as a manager of cor- 
porations, 169; reasons for his res- 
ignation; retains the confidence of 
the President, 176; House of Rep- 
resentatives censure him by resolu- 
tion ; his prompt vindication by the 
President, 177. 

Campaign, political, of 1860: aglimpse 
of, 8 ; Vermont first pronounces for 
Lincoln, in September, 8 ; speech- 
making in Pennsylvania with Col- 
onel Blair, 11 ; the "Wide-awakes," 
a meeting in Southeastern New Jer- 



INDEX. 



457 



sey, 12; excitement over the election 
returns from Pennsylvania, Ohio, 
Indiana, and other states, 13 ; elec- 
tion of Mr. Lincoln practically de- 
cided in October, 14 ; Republican 
gains; election of Judge Kelley; 
counting in a candidate, 15, 16. 

Cass, General, to be forced out of Bu- 
chanan's Cabinet by Secessionists, 
29-34. 

Chase, Salmon P., 6 ; selected by Mr. 
Lincoln for Secretary of the Treas- 
ury; approves the Republican cau- 
cus of members of Peace Confer- 
ence, 104; his opinion that civil 
war was inevitable ; appoints a col- 
lector of customs for Vermont; of- 
fers the author a bureau in the 
Treasury, 105; wishes to have loyal 
men about him, 109 ; orders the 
Treasury to be defended, 112; chair- 
man of Republican caucus of mem- 
bers of Conference, 35 ; announced 
as a prospective member of Mr. 
Lincoln's Cabinet, 81 ; directs issue 
of $10,000,000 in coupon bonds to 
comply with a pledge of Minister 
Adams, 195; decides that the secret 
of the English friend of the United 
States must not be disclosed except 
by his authority, 210; frauds under 
his administration and their detec- 
tion, 285 ; opposed to internal-rev- 
enue system until compelled to 
adopt it, 342 ; decides in favor of 
employing detectives in the internal- 
revenue and customs service, 344 ; 
evil consequences of his decision, 
346 ; his resignation as Secretary 
of the Treasury ; its inadequate 
causes; his nomination of M. B. 
Field, 370 et seq.; Mr. Lincoln's just 
estimate of him, 377 et seq. ; Mr. 
Lincoln makes him chief justice, 
383 ; his gratitude and subsequent 
affection for President Lincoln, 384. 

Cisco, John J., resigns as assistant 
treasurer of New York, 370; his 
fidelity and value, 372 ; withdraws 
his resignation, 376. 

Clarke, General D. W. C., Executive 
Clerk of the Senate, captured, with 
his family, and robbed by Harry 
Gilmor, on the Baltimore and Ohio 
Railroad, July 12, 1864, 409. 



Clay, Cassius M., forms a company for 
defence of the White House, 116. 

Clay, James B., member of Conference 
from Kentucky, 31 ; his cordial re- 
ception by Mr. Lincoln, who ei- 
pfesses his admiration for Henry 
Clay, 72. 

Cobb, Secretary Howell: premature 
acts of, and those of Secretary 
Floyd, postpone proposed seizure 
of Washington, 28 ; assists in driv- 
ing General Cass from the Cabinet, 
and destroys the public credit, 179. 

Colored race, the : their strong desire 
to learn to read ; a colored preacher, 
161 ; his discussion of the superior- 
ity of the white race and confidence 
in the President, 162-165; four 
gray-haired colored scholars taught 
by a boy, 166 ; sources of early 
news of the colored people, 167; 
procession of their children from 
Sunday - school reviewed by the 
President, 331 ; enthusiasm of the 
colored children for him, 332. 

Congress: extra session called for 
July 4, 1861, 107; passes the act 
for Board of Construction, and au 
thorizes armored vessels, 214. 

dimming, Alexander, with Governor 
Morgan, authorized to transport 
troops and provide for public de- 
fence, in April, 1861 ; defended by 
the President, 177. 

Curtin, Andrew G., Republican candi- 
date for Governor of Pennsylvania 
in 1861 ; his canvass and election, 
9-14. 

Darwin, Professor Charles, born on 
the same day with Mr. Lincoln; 
their advantages and personal in- 
fluence compared, 431 et seq. 

Davis, Captain,with Admiral Smith and 
Commodore Paulding, formed the 
Board of Construction, and approved 
armored vessels for the navy, 216. 

Davis, captain of Tenth Vermont, 
holds the skirmish line at Monoc- 
acy all day with seventy-five men, 
394 et seq. ; defeats attempt of 
Confederates to cross the railroad 
bridge and break Wallace's line, 
398 et seq. ; narrow escape and cour- 
age of his men, 399. 



458 



INDEX. 



Davis, David: his appointment on 
commission in the Department of 
the West, 173. 

Davis, Jefferson, to be president of 
Confederacy to seize the gdvern- 
ment, Feb. 13th, 28 ; head of new 
plot to seize Washington, March 
4th ; meeting at his house, Jan. 6th, 
29 ; his long enmity to General 
Scott, 94-96; opposes conferring 
upon General Scott the rank and 
pay of lieutenant-general, 96 ; opin- 
ion of General Taylor, his father-in- 
law, of Mr. Davis, 95 ; commissions 
officers of armored vessels to be 
built in England, 199. 

"Demand notes," their redemption 
and destruction, 289 ; their origin 
and issue, 297 ; extraction of writ- 
ten signatures upon, 298. 

Department of the West: excessive 
claims upon the Treasury in ; their 
disposition, 175; Secretary Stanton 
refuses to approve them, 187; ef- 
forts to influence him to allow 
them, 188 ; how they were paid, 
189; claimants accept payment of 
allowance by commission, and then 
bring suit, 189 ; they fail to recover, 
190. 

Detectives, professional : arguments 
for and against their use in the 
Treasury, 342-344 ; Secretary Chase 
decides to employ them, 344 ; evil 
consequences of their employment, 
346 ; necessity of continuing their 
use, 347-351. 

Dix, General John A., brought into 
the Cabinet by misdeeds of Secre- 
tary Cobb, 28 ; his despatch to 
Hemphill Jones, 34 ; his influence 
in the Cabinet, 79, 80 ; on the quiet 
of the inauguration, 91 ; with George 
Opdyke and R. M. Blatchford author- 
ized to expend $2,000,000 for arms 
and supplies, in April, 1861, 177. 

Dodge, William E., member of the 
Conference from New York, presses 
Mr. Lincoln to yield to the demands 
of the South, and not go to war on 
account of slavery, and so prevent 
the grass from growing in the 
streets of Northern cities, 74 ; Mr. 
Lincoln's expressive reply, 76 ; its 
influence upon the audience, 76. 



Douglas Democrats praise the inaugu- 
ral, 103. 

Douglas, Stephen A., moves omission 
of formal parts of certificates dur- 
ing count of electoral vote, 44 ; his 
debate with Mr. Lincoln hi 1858, 
437 et seq. 

Early, General Jubal A., denies his in- 
tention to attack Washington in 
1864, 385; his supposed force and 
intentions, 387 et seq. ; his denial 
that he intended to attack Wash- 
ington, and his report of July 14th, 
1864, 388 et seq.; declines to give 
his numerical force, 390 et seq. ; 
presses for Washington after the 
battle of Monocacy, 401 et seq. ; is 
before Washington with his army 
on the morning of July llth, 405 
etseq.; his retreat, 408 etseq.; leaves 
four hundred of his wounded at 
Frederick, 400 et seq. ; confesses a 
loss of three thousand at the Monoc- 
acy, 401 ; before Washington, 403 ; 
he does not give the strength of his 
force, 421 ; denies that he expected 
to capture Washington; his state- 
ments about the battle in front of 
Fort Stevens, 424 ; the statements 
of himself and his men, 426 ; his 
statements that " dismay and con- 
sternation prevailed in Washing- 
ton," 426 et seq. 

English citizen, an : his great service 
to our government; offers to pro- 
vide 1,000,000 sterling as security 
for an order to arrest Confederate 
iron-clads; his secret; obligation to 
keep it, 194-210. 

Ericsson, Captain John, approves plans 
of the Galena, and furnishes C. S. 
Bushnell with plans for an invulner- 
able armored vessel, 215 ; his plans 
rejected by Board of Construction ; 
visits Washington ; the President 
favors his floating-battery, and the 
board reverses its decision, 216; 
Monitor built on his plans, and her 
draught less than lie calculated, 
217 ; Captain Fox calls him the in- 
ventor of the Monitor, 234. 

Fairbanks, Governor Erastus, appoints 
delegates to Peace Conference, 19 ; 



INDEX. 



459 



offers First Vermont Regiment, 
April 15tb, 107; applies for Enfield 
rifles for First Vermont Regiment, 
and offers to purchase their guns 
in preference to arming them with 
Belgian muskets, 151. 

Fessenden, Senator, is appointed Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, 381 ; de- 
clines the appointment, but yields 
to the influence of President Lin- 
coln, 382 et seq. 

Field, David Dudley, member of Con- 
ference from New York ; final vote 
of New York on resolutions of the 
Conference by unfair advantage 
taken of his absence, 82. 

Field, Maunsel B. : his relations to 
Secretary Chase ; is made Assistant 
Secretary of the Treasury, 371 ; is 
named to President Lincoln by Sec- 
retary Chase for assistant treasurer 
of New York ; opposition to his 
nomination, 373 et seq. 

Floyd, Secretary J. B. : his disloyalty 
in President Buchanan's Cabinet; 
leaves the Cabinet charged with 
crime, 180. 

Foot, Senator, of Vermont : esteem of 
Vermonters for him ; he regards 
the Conference as a trick ; his bold 
denunciations of Secessionists, 20 ; 
suggests to delegates to arm and 
defend themselves, 21. 

Fox, Gustavus V., a favorite of Pres- 
ident Lincoln ; Assistant Secretary 
of the Navy ; his impressions about 
armored vessels, 213 ; favors build- 
ing the Galena, 215, and the Mon- 
itor, 216; watches progress of the 
Merrimac and predicts her success, 
217; warns the President that she 
may prove effective, 218; despatch 
from, after first battle with the Mer- 
rimac, 223 ; his praise of Captain 
Worden for his handling of the 
Monitor ; attributes the Monitor to 
President Lincoln, 234. 

Fractional currency : its origin and 
utility, 303 ; large amounts issued 
and redeemed ; profit of the United 
States upon, 304 ; wholly made in 
one Treasury bureau, 305. 

Franklin, Captain W. B., appointed to 
organize and drill the Treasury reg- 
iment, 113; captured by Gilmor's 



cavalry, July 12th, 1864; his escape 
on the day of bis capture, 409. 

Frederick, city of, compelled by Gen- 
eral Early to pay $200,000 in Fed- 
eral money, 401. 

Fremont, General, appointed to com- 
mand the Department of the West ; 
his extraordinary powers, 171 ; his 
want of business ability, 172 ; he 
manumits slaves of rebel owners, 
and the President reverses his order, 
173; his susceptibility to praise; 
gives contracts to all; General 
Blair's charges against him, 174; 
his removal by the President, and 
his loyal action thereupon, 174. 

Galena, the, first armored vessel, built 
at Mystic, Conn. ; doubts of her suc- 
cess; her plans approved by Cap- 
tain Ericsson; public outcry against 
her; the President and Captain 
Fox her friends, 215. 

Gault, J., invents encased postage 
stamp ; extent of its use as curren- 
cy, 301-303. 

Gooch, Hon. D. W., of Massachusetts : 
his report to 38th Congress on con- 
dition of exchanged Union prison- 
ers at Annapolis, 325 ; says the 
prisoners were intentionally starved 
by the rebel authorities, 325. 

Grant, General U. S. : simplicity of his 
first visit to Washington, 317; his 
call on the President before ad- 
vance of the Army of the Potomac, 
819; his views of the Union and 
Confederate armies, 321 ; his cele- 
brated telegram of May llth, 1864, 
322; decides to remove General 
Thomas from command of the army 
operating against Hood, 363 ; waits, 
and Thomas defeats Hood, 864; 
finally does Thomas justice in his 
" Personal Memoirs," 365 ; his esti- 
mate of the battle on the Monoc- 
acy, 390; sends part of Sixth Corps 
to Wallace in Baltimore, 392; in- 
tended to reinforce Washington if 
attacked, 407. 

Great Britain favorable to the North 
at beginning of the war, 132; be- 
comes hostile reasons therefor, 
1 83 ; contemptuous treatment of 
the American minister, 134; de- 



460 



INDEX. 



mands surrender of Mason and Sli- 
dell, and prepares for war, 137 ; re- 
pudiates her former claims, 139 ; 
attributes the surrender to coward- 
ice, 146; unfriendliness of crown 
officers to the United States, 198; 
demands security in 1,000,000 for 
preventing departure of iron-clads, 
199; waives the demand on notice 
that Mr. Adams would give the se- 
curity, 208. 

" Greenback :" army name for legal- 
tender notes; its origin, 311. See 
Legal-tender. 

Greene, Lieutenant, fired the guns dur- 
ing first part of the battle with the 
Merrimac, 231 ; his youth and mod- 
esty ; takes command of the Mon- 
itor when Captain Worden was 
disabled, 226 ; his modest account 
of the last part of the fight, 232. 

Gregory, C., describes encased postage- 
stamp in Philatelic Journal, 301. 

Griswold, John A., Corning, & Wins- 
low, co-contractors with C. S. Bush- 
nell to build the Monitor, 216. 

Gurowski, Adam : his sources of in- 
formation of events ; his origin un- 
known, 26 ; his address to Northern 
members ; details alleged conspiracy 
to seize the government, 26-30; 
urges members to go home and or- 
ganize regiments, 27 ; declares that 
Lincoln's election determined the 
South on war, 29 ; seizure of Wash- 
ington on February 13th prevented 
by indiscretions of Cobb and Floyd, 
28 ; postponement of seizure to 
March 4th ; new conspiracy confined 
to leaders ; to be managed by Jef- 
ferson Davis, 30 ; Peace Conference 
a part of the plot, 30 ; declares his 
personal knowledge of the plot to 
assassinate Mr. Lincoln, 58. 

Hall, Hiland, ex-Governor of Vermont, 
delegate to Peace Conference, 19; 
surprised by conversation with Sen- 
ator Foot, 20; shocked at sugges- 
tion of carrying arms, 22 ; his reply 
to a Kentuckian on the subject of 
the courage of New England men, 
66. 

Hamilton, Alexander : his creation of 
the Treasury system of the United 



States, 4 ; no account of the Treas- 
ury to be found in his writings or 
elsewhere in print, 4, 5 ; his checks 
against frauds, 285. 

Harrington, George, First Assistant 
Secretary of the Treasury, 109 ; in- 
vites heads of bureaus to meeting 
for defence of the Treasury, 112; 
announces that Captains Shiras and 
Franklin will drill the Treasury reg- 
iment, 113. 

Henry, Colonel William W., commands 
Tenth Vermont, which is sent, under 
General Ricketts, to reinforce Gen- 
eral Wallace at Baltimore, 392 et 
seq. ; gets fastest steamboat, reaches 
Baltimore, hurries to the front, where 
he arrives on July 8th, 392 ; deceives 
the Confederates, and reaches the 
Monocacy on morning of July 9th, 
393; receives General Wallace's 
order to retreat, 397 ; brings off his 
regiment, 397; General Wallace's 
opinion of him, 400 ; his regiment 
at the Relay House, 409. 

Henry, Dr. Joseph, secretary of the 
Smithsonian Institution ; his char- 
acter ; his esteem for President Lin- 
coln, 285 ; his conversation with the 
President, 237. 

Herald, New York, compelled by the 
people to display the "Stars and 
Stripes," 107. 

Hicks, Governor of Maryland, elected 
as a Union candidate ; opposes pas- 
sage of regiments through Balti- 
more, 121 ; his interview with the 
President, April 20th, 1861, 122; 
the President's answer to him, 123. 

Histories of the war, their inaccuracies, 
3. 

Holt, Judge, of Kentucky, a loyal mem- 
ber of Mr. Buchanan's Cabinet; his 
influence, 79, 80 ; assists in the or- 
der of Mr. Lincoln's inauguration, 
91 ; appointed on commission in 
Department of the West; his jus- 
tice and equity, 173 ; his fidelity 
and loyalty in President Buchanan's 
Cabinet, 181. 

Hospital notes: the wounded from 
the Wilderness; their sufferings 
and exposure, 251 ; charities of the 
colored people ; " mammy " and her 
pickles, 255; the Catholic sisters. 



INDEX. 



461 



258; anaesthetics and their merci- 
ful effects, 261 ; the wounded Dane, 
263. 

Inauguration of President Lincoln, 
March 4th ; a bright day, the city 
orderly, soldiers not visible, 84 ; pro- 
cession starts from Executive Man- 
sion, with President Buchanan in 
an open carriage; takes up Mr. 
Lincoln at Willard's, and moves 
through a great multitude of spec- 
tators to the Capitol, 85, 86 ; strong 
contrast of the two presidents, 86 ; 
Senator Baker introduces Mr. Lin- 
coln, 87 ; his voice distinctly heard ; 
its opening received in silence ; his 
declaration that the laws should be 
executed in all the states excites 
great applause, 89; beauty of his 
peroration ; impressive dignity of 
his oath to defend the Constitution, 
90, 9 1 ; return to the Executive Man- 
sion without disorder or disturb- 
ance ; departure of ex - President 
Buchanan to private life; the un- 
disturbed dignity of the impressive 
ceremony due to the influence of 
Mr. Buchanan, Secretaries Dix, Holt, 
and Stanton, and General Scott, 91, 
92. 

Johnson, Colonel Bradley T., selected 
by General Lee to command expe- 
dition to release Confederate pris- 
oners at Point Lookout, 386 ; com- 
mands division of cavalry in Early's 
campaign in July, 1864, 387; moves 
against railroads and for Point 
Lookout, 389; is recalled by Gen- 
eral Early, 390. 

Johnson, Waldo P., member of the 
Conference, afterwards a Confed- 
erate brigadier, wants to know how 
Mr. Lincoln got through Baltimore ; 
Mr. Seddon's reply, 66. 

Kelley, William D. : first meeting with 
him at the Astor House, in Septem- 
ber, 1861, 8 ; his first canvass and 
election to Congress, 8-15, 16. 

Laird, Messrs., ship-builders, contract 
with Confederates to build two iron- 
clad vessels at Birkenhead, 197; 



how their departure was prevented 
by Minister Adams, 198-203. 

Laraon, Ward H., Mr. Lincoln's friend 
and prospective Marshal of the Dis- 
trict, not present when he received 
the Conference ; a member supplies 
his place, 71. 

Lane, Colonel, of Kansas, forms a com- 
pany to defend the White House, in 
April, 1861, 115. 

Lee, General Robert E., a colonel in 
1861 ; arrived in Washington from 
Texas about March 1st; General 
Scott's high estimate of, 97 ; con* 
drums secession in a letter to his 
son, January 23d, 1861, in very 
strong terms, 98 ; rumor early in 
April that General Scott would re- 
sign and Colonel Lee be appointed 
to command, 99 ; resignation of 
members of his family ; resigns his 
own commission, April 20th, 99 ; 
his only reason that he did not de- 
sire to draw his sword against Vir- 
ginia; was this reason adequate? 
100; influence of his family; its 
probable effect if exerted in behalf 
of the Union, 101 ; his splendid 
genius, military abilities, high char- 
acter, and otherwise stainless life 
admitted, but his claimed justifica- 
tion for taking up arms against his 
country and his flag denied, 99-102; 
he is informed of all events in Wash- 
ington, 386 ; plans the movement 
against Washington in 1864, 387; 
statements of Colonel Long, his 
biographer, 888. 

Lefferts, Marshal, colonel of the Sev- 
enth New York Regiment, 125, 128, 
131. 

Legal -tender notes: their origin a 
necessity, 306 ; President Lincoln's 
opinions of their legality, 807 ; de- 
scription of, 310; amounts issued 
and outstanding, 311; amount re- 
duced by Secretary McCulloch, 318 ; 
Congress prohibits further reduc- 
tion, 814 ; opinion of Secretary 
Chase on their constitutionality, 
315 ; portraits of living men upon, 
prohibited, 306. 

Lewis, Walker, a colored man ; his 
experiences as a slave ; his appoint- 
ment as a messenger; his fidelity, 



462 



INDEX. 



159; rules for his own observation, 
161 ; bis industry and success, 160. 
Lincoln, Abraham : decease of his 
financial officers, 2 ; his charity, 7 ; 
the campaign of 1 860, 8 ; his elec- 
tion assured in October, 14 ; elec- 
toral vote counted, and declared 
elected, 40 ; his peaceable election, 
and its announcement secured by 
General Scott and Vice-President 
Breckinridge, 46 ; threats against 
his life by Southern newspapers, 
48 ; conspiracy for his assassina- 
tion in Baltimore in February, 58 ; 
consents to follow advice of his 
friends on his journey through Bal- 
timore, 64 ; arrival in Washington, 
and his alleged disguise, 65 ; disap- 
pointment caused by his arrival to 
Southerners, 66 ; contempt of Seces- 
sionists for his supposed coarseness 
and vulgarity, 67 ; receives mem- 
bers of Peace Conference on the 
evening of his arrival, 68; desires 
acquaintance with Southern mem- 
bers, 69 ; his frankness with them, 
71 ; his reception of Mr. Rives, 
James B. Clay, George W. Sum- 
mers, and others, 72 ; his answers 
to Mr. Seddon, 74 ; to William E. 
Dodge, 75 ; his determination to 
enforce the provisions of the Con- 
stitution, 73 ; declines to discuss 
the slavery question, 76; opinions 
of Mr. Rives, Judge Ruffin, and oth- 
er Southerners of Mr. Lincoln, 77 ; 
influence of his arrival in Washing- 
ton in checking growth of secession, 
80; his procession to the Capitol 
on March 4th ; his introduction to 
the audience by Senator Baker, of 
Oregon, 87; his opening address 
received in silence, 88 ; effect of his 
announcement that he would use 
the National powers to recover the 
forts and property of the nation, 
89 ; subsequent enthusiasm of the 
audience; his oath to support the 
Constitution, 90 ; his return to the 
Executive Mansion, 91 ; hated by 
the Secessionists, 93 ; his novel se- 
lection of his Cabinet officers, 104 ; 
his first call for seventy-five thou- 
sand men on the fall of Fort Sum- 
ter, 106 ; popular enthusiasm for 



him, 107; his interview with Dr. 
Wynne, 118; the governor of Mary- 
laud and mayor of Baltimore solicit 
an order that no more Northern 
regiments be permitted to pass 
through Maryland, 122 ; his answer 
to them, 123; his reception of the 
New York Seventh and Eighth 
Massachusetts regiments, 129; his 
prompt decision that Mason and 
Slidell, captured on the British 
steamer Trent, must, be surren- 
dered ; his reasons therefor, 147 ; 
his influence in overcoming preju- 
dices of the War and Navy depart- 
ments against the volunteer service, 
149 et seq. ; orders the surgeon- 
general to co-operate with the San- 
itary Commission, 155 ; confidence 
of the colored people in him as 
their chosen emancipator, 163 ; ap- 
points Davis Commission on claims 
in the Department of the West, and 
removes General Fremont, 173 ; his 
confidence in Secretary Cameron, 
176; overlooks Mr. Stanton's dis- 
courtesy and appoints him Secre- 
tary of War, 185 ; his attachment 
to Secretary Stanton, 186 ; his reply 
to resolution censuring Mr. Came- 
ron, 177 ; his trust in Secretary 
Stanton, 192; consultation with him 
about issuing bonds on pledge of 
Minister Adams, 195; early opin- 
ions in favor of armored vessels, 
213; favors construction of the 
Galena, 215 ; approves Captain 
Ericsson's plans for the Monitor, 
216; his confidence that the Mer- 
rimac would not prove irresistible, 
and his faith in the favor of the 
Almighty, 219 ; his confidence in 
Captain Worden and the Monitor, 
220 ; his cheerfulness over news of 
the Merrimac's first victories, 222; 
receives news of the battle between 
the Monitor and the Merrimac, 224 ; 
not elated by the Monitor's victory, 
225; hears Captain Worden de- 
scribe the fight on the deck of the 
Monitor, 227; Captain Fox attrib- 
utes the adoption of armored ves- 
sels to President Lincoln, 234 ; his 
interviews with, and high opinion 
of, Professor Henry, 236 ; the par- 



INDEX. 



463 



don of the sleeping sentinel, 265 ; 
Scott's death at Lee's Mills ; his 
message to the President, 280 ; his 
opinions of the constitutionality of 
legal -tender notes, 307, 310; his 
love for ballad poetry, 309 ; his in- 
terest in returned prisoners at An- 
napolis, 323; 'his sympathy for them, 
327 ; unwilling to believe they were 
intentionally starved by the rebels, 
328 ; his review of the colored chil- 
dren, 332 ; his story of Daniel Web- 
ster and the school -master, 333; 
favors paying for slaves, 335; his 
interview with a Vermont contrac- 
tor, who would remove the slaves 
to Texas, 337; advises General 
Grant not to relieve General Thomas 
and give his command to General 
Logan before the battle of Nash- 
ville, 364 ; his faith, 368 ; he accepts 
Mr. Chase's resignation ; his just 
estimate of Secretary Chase ; he ap- 
points him chief justice, 371 et seq. ; 
his opinion that the republic did 
not depend on the life of any one 
man, 377; nominates Mr. Fessenden 
as Secretary of the Treasury, who 
declines and finally accepts the ap- 
pointment, 381 ; his influence upon 
Mr. Fessenden, 382 ; witnesses bat- 
tle at Fort Stevens, 416 ; his calm- 
ness in times of excitement, and 
confidence that Washington would 
not be captured, 428 ; letters of, to 
Governor Swann and General Grant 
now first published,429,430; sketch 
of some events in his life, 436 et 
seq. ; writes his own biography, 432 ; 
his power of thought, 434; origin 
and powerful influence of his "di- 
vided-house" speech, 435 etseq.; 
his debate with Senator Douglas 
and Chicago speech of July 10th, 
1858, 436 ; his nomination and elec- 
tion, 440 et seq.; his faith in the 
Bible, 447 et seq.; the best histories 
of his life, 453. 

Logan, General John A., ordered by 
General Grant to supersede Thomas 
in command of the army against 
Hood ; waits at Cincinnati until 
Thomas defeats Hood, when the 
order is rescinded, 863 et seq. 

Logan, Stephen T., member from Illi- 



nois, moves that the members of 
the Conference call in a body on 
the President-elect ; motion carried 
by the influence of President Tyler, 
67. 

London Times, the, opposes secession 
before the commencement of the 
war, 132 ; favors secession and dis- 
union, 1 33 ; statement of practice 
of Great Britain in cases like that 
of the Trent, 138 ; attributes sur- 
render of Mason and Slidell to 
American cowardice, 146. 

Long, General : his account of Early's 
campaign against Washington, 388. 

Lowndes, Francis, a clerk in the Reg- 
ister's office, seventy-five years old, 
the first to sign a pledge to defend 
the Treasury, 1 14. 

Lyons, Lord, British minister, friendly 
to the North ; his person and char- 
acter, 140 ; his interview with Sec- 
retary Seward, 141 ; indifferent when 
Mason and Slidell are surrendered, 
141 ; sends a steamer to Province- 
town, 146. 

Maryland : Governor Hicks and au- 
thorities oppose passage of troops ; 
public meetings in, 120, 121. 

Mason and Slidell, captured on British 
steamer Trent by Captain Wilkes, 
of the San Jacinto, 134 ; their de- 
livery demanded by Great Britain, 
137 ; Mr. Seward agrees to surren- 
der them, 140; they are sent from 
Fort Warren to Proviucetown, Cape 
Cod, and delivered to a British 
steamer, 146 ; their mission a fail- 
ure, 147; their complaints of accom- 
modations, 147. 

Mason, J. M., and John Slidell, Seces- 
sion leaders, present at meeting at 
Davis's house, January 5th, 29 ; 
Mason to arrange for Peace Con- 
ference ; Slidell and Mallory to call 
convention at Montgomery, 29. 

Massachusetts Sixth Regiment fights 
its way through Baltimore ; its dead 
and wounded, 116; its gallantry, 
117. 

McClellan, General George B. : bag- 
gage train for his headquarters de- 
scribed, 317. 

McClure, Colonel Alexander, conducts 



464 



INDEX. 



the Republican campaign in Penn- 
sylvania in 1860, 9; his efficiency, 
9-18. 

Merrimac, the : Confederate Congress 
plans her conversion into an ar- 
mored vessel in May, 213; Captain 
Fox reports her completion and pre- 
dicts her success, 217; sinks the 
Congress and the Cumberland, 222 ; 
her fight with the Monitor reported, 
224 ; described by Captain Worden, 
228. 

Jffrmesota,i\ie, runs aground in Hamp- 
ton Roads when the Merrimac first 
came out of Norfolk, 222 ; it is de- 
cided to burn her, and she is stripped 
for that purpose ; timely arrival of 
Captain Fox saves her, 223 ; the 
Monitor arrives and is laid along- 
side, 224. 

Monitor , the: Captain Ericsson's plans 
for, favored by the President, 216 ; 
contract for, awarded; energy of 
her contractors, 216; sent to sea 
before she was completed, 217 ; the 
President's confidence in her before 
the battle, 220 ; Captain Fox tele- 
graphs her arrival at Newport News, 
223; his account of the battle on 
his return to Washington, 225 ; she 
comes to Washington, 225 ; Captain 
Worden describes her fight with the 
Merrimac, standing on her deck, 
227 ; her success, 234. 

Monocaey, the battle of: its impor- 
tance underrated by Union author- 
ities and by General Early, 385 ; bat- 
tle of, described, 391 et seq.; its 
incidents, importance, and results, 
891 et seq. ; General Grant's opin- 
ion of its importance, 390 ; General 
Gordon's opinion of its sanguinary 
character, 401; Tenth Vermont Reg- 
iment, its account of, 409 ; its place 
in history; it saved Washington 
from capture, 424. 

Morning Chronicle, the, declares that 
Congress must " eat the leek bran- 
dished in British faces," 137. 

Mori-ill, Lot M. : his altercation with 
Commodore Stockton in the Con- 
ference; his character; his coolness 
under excitement, 52-55 ; impresses 
Southern members with a better 
opinion of Northern courage, 56. 



New York city: excitement in, over 
the fall of Fort Sumter, 106. 

New York Seventh Regiment reported 
cut to pieces in Baltimore, 116. 

Nixon, John T., appointed judge of 
the Federal Circuit Court in New 
Jersey, 8; his election to Congress 
in October, 1861 ; his canvass, 12, 
13. 

Noyes, William Curtis, states deter- 
mination to protect rights of mem- 
bers of Conference, 25. 

Office-seeking, its discouragements, 18; 
it has no possible profits ; its evils 
and dangers, 353 et seq.; its influ- 
ence upon men of ability, 359. 

O'Neill, Charles, his report on a monu- 
ment to Secretary Stanton, 191. 

Opdyke, George, with General Dix 
and R. M. Blatchford, authorized to 
expend $2,000,000 for public de- 
fence in April, 1861 ; accounts for 
whole amount, 177. 

Paulding, Commodore, reports govern- 
ment property at Norfolk safely 
protected on the 18th of April, 114; 
chairman of Board of Construction, 
favors construction of iron -clad 
vessels, 215. 

Peace Conference, the : delegates from 
Vermont, appointed to, 19 ; meets 
at Willard's Hall, 23 ; a device to 
keep the North quiet, 29 ; members 
witness count of electoral vote, 41 ; 
altercation between Senator Morrill 
and Commodore Stockton ; its sup- 
pression by President Tyler, 52-56; 
Mr. Seddon's opening speech, 51 ; 
change of Southern opinions of 
courage of Northern men, 56 ; re- 
port of Committee on Resolutions a 
complete surrender by the North to 
slavery, 50-56 ; influence on mem- 
bers of Mr. Lincoln's arrival in 
Washington, 66; motion that the 
Conference call on Mr. Lincoln op- 
posed by the Secessionists; Pres- 
ident Tyler declares it eminently 
proper; it passes, and the president 
is to ascertain when Mr. Lincoln 
will receive the Conference, 67; 
adjourns February 27th ; its res- 
olutions adopted by a majority of 



INDEX. 



one state, secured by refusing to 
accept the vote of New York, as 
agreed by a majority of its dele- 
gates, by the unfair ruling of Pres- 
ident Tyler, 81 ; its resolutions not 
considered in Congress, except by 
way of amendment to those of Mr. 
Crittenden ; its results, except to 
unite the Republicans and loyal 
Democrats, nil, 82. 

Pennsylvania : six hundred men, the 
first troops under the call, arrive in 
Washington, April 18th, 114. 

Phelps, J. W., colonel First Vermont, 
declines discarded Belgian muskets 
and wants Enfield rifles for his reg- 
iment, 161 ; his recognition by Gen- 
eral Scott, who sends his regiment 
where active service was expected, 
154. 

Pitkin, Parley P., Grant's quarter- 
master on the James, favors Col- 
onel Henry with fastest steamer for 
Baltimore, 392. 

"Plug-Uglies," the, of Baltimore: 
their character ; their connection 
with the plot to assassinate Presi- 
dent Lincoln, 63 ; attack on the 
Sixth Massachusetts in Baltimore, 
125; burn the bridges and destroy 
the railroads, 127 ; prepare to at- 
tack the Northern forces at Annap- 
olis Junction, 128; their final de- 
parture from Washington, 129. 

Postage-stamps : first used as currency 
by General Spinner, treasurer, 300; 
are encased in copper and used as 
coins, 301 ; extent of their use, 
301. 

Potomac Naturalists' Club, the: its 
origin, meetings, and membership, 
239, 246 ; Robert Kennicott, Will- 
iam Simpson.CountPourtalis, Baron 
Osten - Sacken, Theodore Gill, Dr. 
Newberry, Agassiz, and other mem- 
bers and guests, 240-245; discus- 
sion of the giant octopus, 246-250. 

Prisoners, Confederate: General Lee 
proposes to President Davis to send 
Colonel Bradley T. Johnson to re- 
lease twenty thousand at Point 
Lookout, 386; General Early's re- 
port concerning, 389. 

Prisoners, Union: exchanged at An- 
napolis, 323; their horrible treat- 



ment and desperate condition, 326 ; 
its effect upon their minds, 327; 
sympathy of the President and a 
lady of Boston for them, 324, 328. 
Public men, to be estimated by final 
results, and not by single errors, 5. 

Register's office : cringing address of 
employes corrected, 110; in excel- 
lent working order in April, 1861, 
111 ; issues $10,000,000 in coupon 
bonds between Friday and Monday, 
195; necessity for it and how it 
was done, 203-211; severe conse- 
quences to the register, 205, 210 ; 
process of signing and issuing bonds, 
205 ; entries of the $10,000,000 on 
the register's books, 211. 

Register of the Treasury : proposes to 
pay balances to resigning army offi- 
cers by checks on Richmond, 98 ; 
excitement resulting therefrom, 99 ; 
takes the oath of office, 109; de- 
clines to pay deserters from the 
Treasury for fractions of the month, 
111; invites his clerks to promise 
to defend the Treasury; their ex- 
cuses, 113. 

Regular service, war and naval : an- 
tipathy of, to volunteers ; heads of 
bureaus old men, 149 ; Chief of 
Bureau of Ordnance, his anger at 
a proposal to change his order, 162; 
declares the old Springfield musket 
best for volunteers, 163; his rea- 
sons, 154; regular officers oppose 
the Sanitary Commission, 155 ; re- 
quired by the President to give rea- 
sons, 156; overruled by the Presi- 
dent, 157. 

Republican members of Peace Con- 
ference : decide to take action, 24 ; 
alarmed and united by call on Pres- 
ident Buchanan, 34 ; resolve to invite 
loyal Democrats to a caucus, then 
subsequently form union, 35. 

Ricketts, General, sent by General 
Grant with Third Division of Sixth 
Corps to defence of Baltimore in 
July, 1864, 392 ; his defence of the 
left at the battle of Monocacy, 394. 

Rives, William C. : Mr. Lincoln desires 
to meet him, 69 ; his high character 
and courtly bearing ; Mr. Lincoln's 
cordial reception, 72 ; the cou versa- 



466 



INDEX. 



tion between them, 73 ; Mr. Rives 
a close observer of the conduct and 
conversation of Mr. Lincoln, 75; his 
declaration that Mr. Lincoln had 
been misjudged by the South, that 
he would be the head of his admin- 
istration, and that much fault could 
not be found with the opinions he 
had expressed, 77. 

Ratlin, Judge Thomas, of North Caro- 
lina, a member of the Conference 
whom Mr. Lincoln wished to meet, 
69; his conversation with Mr. Lin- 
coln, 76 ; regrets Mr. Lincoln's pro- 
nounced opinions against slavery, 
but otherwise could not find much 
fault with his views, 76, 77. 

Sanitary Commission tendered to Sur- 
geon-General, and rejected, 155; 
just indignation of its officers, who 
appeal to the President, 156; Sur- 
geon-General called to account, and 
ordered to accept and co-operate 
with Commission, 156; inestimable 
value of the Sanitary Commission 
to the soldiers, 157. 

Saturday Review, the : opposes seces- 
sion before the war ; declares con- 
quest of the South a hopeless task, 
133 ; charges the North with cow- 
ardice, 146. 

Scott, Colonel Thomas A., Assistant 
Secretary of War, requires applica- 
tion for rifles of First Vermont to 
be made to Bureau of Ordnance, 
151 ; but on refusal of that bureau 
overrules it, 154 ; reasons for his 
selection as Assistant Secretary,169 ; 
his efforts to reform the manage- 
ment of the War Office, 170 ; his ill 
success ; reasons for his return to 
private life, 171. 

Scott, General Winfield : opposes and 
breaks up first conspiracy to seize 
Washington ; collects regulars there 
in January, 28 ; facility of access 
to him in February; his opinion 
of Vermonters, 37 ; his declaration 
that the electoral vote should be 
counted, and that there should be 
no revolution in Washington, 38 ; 
Vice-President Breckinridge prom- 
ises to co-operate with him, 39; his 
numerous visitors, 39 ; his precau- 



tions on February 13th, 41 ; excited 
anger of Secessionists, 43 ; peace- 
able declaration of Mr. Lincoln's 
election due to him and to Mr. 
Breckinridge, 46 ; his reply to Wig- 
fall, 46 ; refuses to temporize with 
secession, 79; secures a dignified 
and orderly inauguration, 92 ; hated 
by Secessionists; urges President 
Buchanan to reinforce Southern 
forts in December ; proposes to 
send two hundred and fifty men, 
with supplies, to Fort Sumter with- 
out informing Secretary Floyd, 93 ; 
his stern reply to a senator who 
urged his desertion ; enmity of Jef- 
ferson Davis, 94 ; its origin ; his 
severe expressions against Davis, 
95 ; declares that no cause can 
prosper of which Davis is a leader, 
95; opposed to the Abolitionists; 
hopes of a great Union party on the 
basis of the Crittenden Resolutions ; 
declares that the North was the 
stronger in resources, the equal of 
the South in courage, but could not 
subjugate the South with less than 
three hundred thousand men, 96 ; 
declared in favor of young generals 
that he was too old and worn-out 
for the command ; his high estimate 
of Colonel Robert E. Lee that be 
was, and would remain, loyal to the 
Union that he was equal to the 
command of the army, 97 ; grounds 
of his faith in Colonel Lee, 98 ; di- 
rects that Northern regiments must 
pass through Baltimore, 119-121, 
122; orders First Vermont Regi- 
ment to Fortress Monroe, 151. 

Scott, William, a private of Company 
K, Third Vermont, condemned to be 
shot for sleeping on his post, 271 ; 
interest of his comrades, 272 ; par- 
doned by the President, 276 ; his 
death at Lee's Mills and message 
to the President, 280, 282. 

Secession : blindness of the North to 
its progress ; transfer of money and 
supplies to the South ; South Caro- 
lina first secedes, 18; leaders as- 
sume control of Peace Conference, 
appoint its officers, and exclude the 
press, 23, 24 ; refuse to have a re- 
cording secretary, 25 ; oppose any 



INDEX. 



467 



record of proceedings, 25 ; conven- 
tion to form confederacy to be held 
at Montgomery, Ala., by February 
14th, 29 ; rumors of revolution be- 
fore counting of electoral vote, 36 ; 
Washington crowded with disorder- 
ly Secessionists, 36 ; leaders hope 
for a disturbance during count of 
electoral vote, 42 ; their angry de- 
nunciations of General Scott for his 
preventive measures, 43 - 46 ; de- 
pressing influence upon Southern 
members of Peace Conference of Mr. 
Lincoln's opinions at his reception, 
77 ; ripens during the last week but 
one of the old administration ; six 
states secede, 79 ; growth of, in the 
Border states, 80 ; suddenly checked 
by Mr. Lincoln's arrival, 80; effect 
of influx of young Republicans to 
see their President inaugurated, 81 ; 
they fill Washington and overflow 
to neighboring cities; a paralysis 
for the time falls upon secession, 
82 ; it condemns inaugural address 
as fatal to the Union, 103 ; opens fire 
upon Fort Sumter, April 14th, 106 ; 
an angry Washington judge, 109 ; 
he leaves for the South, 109 ; clerks 
in register's office infected with, 
111; Secessionists threaten Har- 
per's Ferry in April, 116; prema- 
ture rejoicings over destruction of 
New York Seventh and Eighth Mas- 
sachusetts regiments, 128. 

Seddon, James A., Southern manager 
of Peace Conference, 24; opposes 
making proceedings public, 26 ; 
leader of Southern members ; his 
opinions, ability, and resemblance 
to John Randolph, 51, 52; his ser- 
vant gives him a note of Mr. Lin- 
coln's arrival, which he hands to 
Johnson, of Missouri ; his contempt 
for the unguarded inquiry of that 
gentleman, 66 ; his charges against 
the North, and Mr. Lincoln's digni- 
fied answers at the reception of the 
Conference, 73. 

" Seven - thirty " notes: their issue; 
they did not circulate as currency, 
298. 

Seward, William H., with Mr. Wash- 
burn, takes charge of Mr. Lincoln's 
journey through Baltimore, and es- 



corts him safely to his hotel, 65 ; 
announced as a prospective member 
of Mr. Lincoln's Cabinet, 81 ; his 
speech to a body of his constituents 
which disclosed noneof Mr. Lincoln's 
purposes, 83 ; selected by President 
Lincoln for State Department, 104 ; 
his negotiations with Lord Lyons 
for surrender of Mason and Slidell, 
140; his masterly reply -to Lord 
Russell, 142 ; approved by the Amer- 
ican people, 145 ; consultationjpith 
the President and Secretary Cnase 
on the necessity of keeping the faith 
of Minister Adams to a noble Eng- 
lishman, 195. 

Shiras, Captain, appointed to organize 
and drill the Treasury regiment, 
113. 

Sigel, General F., informs General Wal- 
lace of General Early's advance, with 
thirty thousand men, past Maryland 
Heights, 391. 

Silver coins, fractional : their sudden 
disappearance from circulation, 299 ; 
necessity of a substitute for them, 
300. 

Sixth Corps : Third Division, under 
General Ricketts, sent to reinforce 
General Wallace at Baltimore, 392 ; 
its position on the Monocacy, 394 ; 
its bravery and desperate fighting 
there, 396 ; its heavy losses there, 
400 ; the remaining divisions reach 
Washington, July llth and 12th, 
410; its part in the battle of Fort 
Stevens, 416; Early's sudden re- 
treat upon its arrival, 427. 

Smalley, Judge D. A., of Vermont, de- 
fines the crime of treason in his 
charge to a grand jury in New York, 
47 ; declines to interfere with seiz- 
ure of arms about to be shipped to 
Charleston, 49. 

Smith, Admiral, member of Board of 
Construction with Commodore Pauld- 
ing and Captain Davis,215; approves 
construction of the Monitor, 216. 

Smith, Caleb B., nominated Secretary 
of the Interior, 104. 

Spinner, General Francis E. : his fidel- 
ity as a Treasury officer ; his suffer- 
ing from disease, borne heroically ; 
his death, 3 ; suggests payments to 
resigning officers by drafts on South- 



468 



INDEX. 



era assistant-treasuries, 98 ; prefers 
to take his secession from the out- 
side of the Treasury ; proposes vig- 
orous defence of the Treasury, 112; 
Cornwell, a clerk in his office, ab- 
stracts " demand notes ;" his de- 
tection and punishment, 290-295; 
uses postage - stamps in place of 
small coins, 300 ; collects money 
and-securities of the Treasury, and 
prepares for leaving Washington 
when it was threatened by General 
Early in 1864,408. 

Stannard, General George J. : his brill- 
iant record in the war, 354 ; he is 
appointed collector of the district 
of Vermont, 355 ; he is ruined by 
it, with some of his sureties, 357 ; 
he becomes a door-keeper in the 
gallery of the House of Representa- 
tives, 357. 

Stanton, Secretary Edwin M. : enters 
President Buchanan's Cabinet, 28 ; 
his influence there, 79 ; declares 
that the surrender of the forts in 
Charleston harbor would be crim- 
inal, 80 ; promotes the quiet of the 
inauguration, 91 ; public opinion of 
him less favorable than it should 
be, 168 ; his character and quali- 
ties, 178 ; his physical and mental 
vigor in 1861, 178; his first act in 
President Buchanan's Cabinet ; de- 
clares surrender of Fort Sumter a 
crime, 181 ; his hatred of cant and 
hypocrisy, and of speculative pa- 
triots, 183 ; his strong prejudices 
and caustic criticism, 185; his love 
for, and eulogy of, President Lin- 
coln, 186 ; his appointment as Sec- 
retary of War, 187 ; his refusal to 
sanction improper claims ; his firm- 
ness, 188 ; his patriotic character, 
190; report of Charles O'Neill's 
committee to House of Representa- 
tives on appropriation for a monu- 
ment to Mr. Stanton, 192; present 
at battle of Fort Stevens, 415. 

Stars and Stripes: enthusiasm for, 
April 1 5th, 105 ; love for it abides 
forever, 108; affection for, of an old 
Carolinian, 114. 

Stevens, Fort, location of, 411 ; battle 
of July 12th, 1864, 412 el seq. 

Stewart, John A., is proposed by Sen- 



ator Morgan as assistant-treasurer 
of New York ; he declines the ap- 
pointment, 373. 

Stimers, Alban C., chief -engineer of 
the Monitor, managed the turret dur- 
ing the fight with the Merrimac, 231. 

Stockton, Commodore: his character; 
his interruption of Senator Merrill 
in the Conference ; vigorous action 
of a Northern delegate, 53-56. 

Summers, George W., member of Con- 
ference from Virginia, 31 ; his cor- 
dial reception by Mr. Lincoln, 71 ; 
his approval of Mr. Lincoln's state- 
ment that he would obey and en- 
force the Constitution and the laws, 
73. 

Sumter, Fort, fall of ; its effect on the 
North, April 14th, 106. 

Taney, Chief Justice, death of, Octo- 
ber, 1864, 384. 

Thomas, George H. : his loyalty ques- 
tioned and defended, 360 ; he assists 
General Scott in April, 1861, and 
protects the railroads to Washing- 
ton, 361 ; he " will hold Chatta- 
nooga until we starve," 362 ; moves 
against Hood ; his slowness ; Gen- 
eral Grant proposes to remove him 
and give his command to Logan; 
he waits under the President's ad- 
vice; Thomas fights and defeats 
Hoods army; Grant's justice to 
him, 362 et seq. ; his unflinching 
loyalty, 365. 

Tod, ex-Governor, of Ohio, nominated 
for Secretary of the Treasury, and 
declines, 380. 

Treasury notes, did not circulate as 
money, 296. 

Treasury of the United States the 
creation of Mr. Hamilton ; no writ- 
ten history of; its expansiveness, 
285 ; three frauds upon, and their 
detection, 287-294 ; frauds upon by 
the warrant clerk of the secretary, 
347-351 ; the end of the dishonest 
clerk, 352. 

" Trent affair," history of, 132 ; fortu- 
nate conclusion of, 146 ; Great 
Britain's action upon it, 169. 

Trumbull, Senator Lyman, a teller dur- 
ing count of electoral vote in Feb- 
ruary, 1861, 43. 



INDEX. 



469 



Tyler, ex -President John, president 
of Peace Conference, 24 ; enforces 
rights of Northern members, 26 ; 
suppresses an altercation and re- 
stores order in the excited Confer- 
ence, 55 ; instead of calling on Mr. 
Lincoln, sends a note of inquiry 
when he would receive the Confer- 
ence Mr. Lincoln's prompt reply, 
68. 

Tyler, General, commands right wing 
at the Monocacy, 393 ; goes to the 
assistance of Colonel Brown at the 
bridge; assists in holding it until 
Wallace's army has passed ; is then 
surrounded by Confederates, but es- 
capes, 897 et seq. 

Yallandigham, Clement L., introduces 
resolution in House of Representa- 
tives opposing surrender of Mason 
and Slidell, 138. 

Van Brunt, Captain, commands the 
Minnesota when attacked by the 
Merrimac, 224; his joy at the ar- 
rival of the Monitor; informs Cap- 
tain Wordeu that the Merrimac will 
probably attack at daylight, 228. 

Vermont regiments : First Regiment, 
Colonel Phelps, tendered to the 
President, April 16th, 107; objects 
to Belgian discarded muskets, 151 ; 
applies for Enfield rifles, 152; how 
it got them, 153 ; its colonel com- 
mended by General Scott, who or- 
ders regiment to Fortress Monroe, 
154. 

Vermont Tenth Regiment holds the 
left of Union line in the battle of 
the Monocacy ; its desperate fight- 
ing, 394 et seq. 

Virginia : invites a Peace Conference 
of the states on the 4th of Febru- 
ary, 19; her delegates assume its 
control, 24; Gurowski's opinion of 
the mother of Presidents, 27; to 
provide forces to seize the Capitol, 
36 ; one of her members proposes 
" to have some music " before count 
of electoral vote, 42; influence of 
Lee family in, 101 ; rumors that 
Virginia has seceded, April 18th, 
114; threatens Harper's Ferry, 116. 

Volunteers: antagonism of regular 
service to, 149-167, 169-171. 



Wadsworth, James S., a leading Re- 
publican, 30; his criticism on Gu- 
rowski's speech, 31. 

Wallace, General Lew.: General Grant's 
opinion of the battle of the Monoc- 
acy, 390; prepares to check the 
Confederate advance, 391 ; is rein- 
forced by Ricketts with a part of 
the Sixth Corps, 392 ; forms his 
line of battle on the Monocacy, 393 
et seq. ; fights the battle, 394 et seq. ; 
orders retreat, 896 ; his opinion of 
Colonel Henry, of the Tenth Ver- 
mont, 400; his resistance on the 
Monocacy saves Washington from 
capture, 390 et seq.; with the Sixth 
Corps saves Washington from cap- 
ture, 424. 

Wallach, ex-Mayor, introduces Walker 
Lewis, a colored man, to the regis- 
ter, 158. 

Washburn, Elihu B., a teller during 
count of electoral vote in February, 
1861, 43; with Mr. Seward takes 
charge of Mr. Lincoln's journey 
through Baltimore to the Capitol, 
64; they attend him to Willard's 
Hotel on the early morning of Feb- 
ruary 23d, 65. 

Washington city: isolated from the 
loyal states in April, 1861, 115; 
rumors of rebel attacks, 117; dis- 
appearance of the " Plug-Uglies," 
129; its condition and defences 
well known to General Lee in 1864, 
386 ; Early's campaign against, in 
1864, 387 et seq.; not supposed by 
its citizens to be in danger, 404; 
saved from capture by the battle of 
the Monocacy and ar ri val of the Sixth 
Corps, 424 ; no dismay or consterna- 
tion there on account of General 
Early, 426. 

Webster, Daniel : President Lincoln's 
story of his boyhood, 333. 

Welles, Gideon, nominated Secretary 
of the Navy, 104; congratulates 
Captain Wilkes on the capture of 
Mason and Slidell, 135; his report 
to Congress on the capture, 186; 
his claim that he favored and Sec- 
retary Seward first opposed the sur- 
render, 147 ; this claim unfounded, 
148 ; an early friend of armored 
vessels, 213. 



470 



INDEX. 



Wilkes, Captain : his capture of Mason 
and Slidell on the Trent, 1 34 ; se- 
cures the thanks of the House of 
Representatives, 135; his capture 
without instructions, 136 ; Lord Rus- 
sell demands his dismissal from the 
navy, 137. 

Winslow, Corning, & Griswold, joint- 
contractors with C. S. Bushnell to 
build the Monitor, 216. 

Wood, Fernando, mayor of New York : 
his distress over the charge of Judge 
Smalley; his apology to Senator 
Toombs for not interfering with the 
police for want of power, 48, 49. 

Wool, General John E., heads the call 
in Troy to promote enlistments, April 
15th, 107. 

Worden, Captain John S. : President 
Lincoln appoints him to command 
the Monitor, 220; the President's 
confidence in him, 221 ; his prompt 
attack on the Merrimac, 224 ; his 
high praise from Captain Fox, 225 ; 



boards the Monitor at Washington 
Navy-yard ; his wounds ; affection 
of his men, 226 ; the first naval 
officer to volunteer for the Mon- 
itor ; his energy hastens her com- 
pletion, 228 ; his description of the 
fight with the Merrimac; points 
out where the Monitor was weak, 
227-231; his first inquiry when, 
after his injury, he recovered con- 
sciousness, 233 ; Captain Fox as- 
cribes the victory of the ^Monitor to 
Captain Worden, 234. 
Wynne, Dr. James : his escape from 
New York ; his exaggerated reports 
of the loyalty of the North, and 
danger to persons and property of 
Southerners ; escapes across the 
Potomac, 118. 

Zollicoffer, F. K., a member of the 
Conference from Tennessee ; cor- 
dially received by Mr. Lincoln, 
72. 



THE END.